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LOTRO and MMO Structure, Random Thoughts

There's a reason they called it "EverCrack."

One of the key features of the MMO structure is that everything is fed to you in tiny, easy-to-swallow bites that gradually pull you further and further "in" to the game. Instead of one big quest (say, "Defeat the Witch-King") you are actually given one tiny quest after another, each of which gradually pull you from your starter town at Point A, to the next town at Point B, at which point you start to get quests that pull you to the next town at Point C, etc. And since by the time you get back to town after one quest you've pretty much healed up from any damage you took, when the quest-giver hands you another one, it's easy to say, "sure, I can do that in just a few minutes," and off you go.

Thus, the entire structure of the game is basically feeding off the gamer impulse of "just one more room" -- except in this case, it's "just one more quest." And because the quests are short, if you have one that's not your cup of tea, it's a fairly simple thing to just slog through it and it'll be gone shortly. If course, if it's a quest you like, you burn through it quickly and go running back to town hoping to find another one like it. This, of course, is entirely deliberate on the part of the game makers: they want you to be hooked into wanting to play it "just a little more" so you're willing to spend the next month's $15 and the next month's $15 and the next month's $15 ad infinitum...

All of this, I'm sure, is old news to longtime MMO players; I've certainly read about the effect before, but this is the first time I've ever actually studied it in practice.

MMOs also have the social aspect, which some people really get into. As you've probably noticed by now, I do not, and this is the thing that's most likely to keep me from getting "addicted" to LOTRO. My first character, Galadhalan, finally got to his first "party-only" quest ... and stopped dead. I don't want to join a party full of strangers. I certainly don't want to put out a call "'Champion' looking for party members for 'Quest XYZ'." It's only been by mostly ignoring the other players that I've been able to enjoy the game at all -- finding myself required to interact with them just makes my introvert soul go "HELL NO."

Not that I've had any problems with other players ... the few times I've interacted with any have been pleasant enough, such as one gal (the character was a gal, anyway) who popped up when I was a little over my head, helped me at random, then wandered off again with little more than "NP" when I said thanks. A few have asked me for clues on a quest; a few have offered me clues on a quest. Only one person I've encountered has been slightly off-putting, because their behavior suggested a mind not entirely in a legal state -- or at the very least operating in that severe sleep-dep mode where everything (including "#character# moos like a dire wolf, then cries") is funny.

It is more or less at this stage that I wish somebody I already knew was on the game and at roughly the right level ... or failing that, that I could just play the thing as a single-player game like I'd prefer. It's not like I can just keep building new characters and taking them from 1-10 over and over again. (Well, I mean, I could, but I doubt I'd enjoy it much.) But as it is, when I had ~45 minutes to spare and played it last night, I didn't want to play Galadhalan because I didn't want to muck with a party quest. So I created a 1st level human from Rohan and started his low-level (and single-player) quests.

So, we'll see how it goes from here. I don't expect to have a lot of time to play it this week anyway.

-The Gneech

EDIT: Oh, and I need to find "four rowan bowstaves" for some quest, which I gather I need to get some other player to craft for me. Cry.



( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 3rd, 2007 07:16 pm (UTC)
well, I would join you, but I feel the same way about the environment as you do. I don't like other people interfering in my story. If I want interaction, I'll tabletop, fer crying out loud. -Frisk
Apr. 3rd, 2007 07:23 pm (UTC)
I think this is the same MMO my friend furkitfox has been talking about...

If it is, and you can find each other, he and his group of strangers can be a pretty fun bunch to play with. **shrug**
Apr. 3rd, 2007 07:37 pm (UTC)
You like interacting with other people when we play tabletop RPGs, so I guess you just don't like interacting with strangers? Which is kind of funny because you interact with people at cons when they come by your table. I sympathize though. I don't think I'd enjoy MMOs very much either.
Apr. 3rd, 2007 07:52 pm (UTC)
Apr. 3rd, 2007 08:05 pm (UTC)
I don't like having to jump into a totally unfamiliar crowd. At cons I generally know plenty of people, or at least have already met them.

It's weird, tho ... I'd be willing to join a group of strangers at a convention tabletop RPG. It's just the anonymity of the internet that I don't like. I guess it's because I can't see the person and read their body language et al. over the 'net, so I have absolutely no clues to go on about them.

Apr. 4th, 2007 04:40 am (UTC)
And I'm about as strange as they come. n_n
Apr. 3rd, 2007 07:41 pm (UTC)
I'll agree with this whole-heartedly.
Myself, it's been on Vanguard lately. I really only know one or two other people with accounts. And I prefer just using it as a time-sink when there is nothing else to do. But when you reach quests that say 'team'... well, I give them one shot on my own. If there is NO hope of getting through it on my own, I tend to drop it.

Such was CoH for me too. As, well, (please, no one take offence to this) Strange idiots on their own are strange idiots. Strange idiots in groups are amplified by factors of an unimaginable number, and tend to get me killed.
Apr. 3rd, 2007 08:01 pm (UTC)
CoH = "City of Heroes"?

FWIW, I did a little digging on the LOTRO messageboards and have found a group who claim to be RP-heavy, so next time I play I'll probably wander over there and see what I can see.

Apr. 3rd, 2007 08:08 pm (UTC)
Yeah, CoH = City of Heroes. I played that after it came out, and gave up on it a couple of years back. My fiancee plays it still, though, and seem to have a gouple of groups that are very heavy RP.

So far on Vanguard, the RP-prefered servers have less of the strange-idiots and just more of the strange-people-that-I-don't-know. As much as I love RP, I prefer doing that on mucks and muds if online. I think it's because I can just ignore the text from those I don't want to interact with.
Apr. 3rd, 2007 08:48 pm (UTC)
there's a point like "hitting the wall" where you finish all of the "i can do it myself" missions, and only have left multi-person dungeon raids and the like.

At that point, having a dependable crowd of folks to draw from becomes essential, because with most MMO's, persistance will take the place of skill. Just because somebody is a high level does not mean they know how to do their job *well*, and pick-up-groups almost ALWAYS have one or two members who don't have a goddamned clue.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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