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MMOre Weirdness

Well I've moved over to the "unofficial RP server" for LOTRO and made it my home, at least for now. So far, so good. In order to acclimate, I've also been checking out the forums for a likely guild (referred to as "kinship" in LOTRO), and in a thread set up by a group called "The Waywatchers of Cardolan" (a nice Middle-Earthey name for a group if ever there was one) there was an announcement of a kinship event where a bunch of them were going to meet up in Bree and patrol the Great East Road to free it of goblins and Dourhands [1]. "Neat," I thought. "They're really getting into their 'We are the guardians of the Shire' role, that's cool."

This was followed up by a post from someone with a hobbit character in the game, who basically said, "Thank you, brave heroes, for protecting us Shire-folk from the dangers of the world." "Aww," I thought. "That's cute."

Finally, after the event took place, somebody posted on the message board, "The roads are cleared from Bree to Weathertop. The patrol was successful, though I fear the safety of the East Road will not last long. Be safe on your travels my friends and call on us when you seek aid."

At this point, that Charlie the Unicorn part of my brain popped up and said, "But you didn't actually achieve anything!!!"

Which, of course, they haven't. It's an MMO ... the goblins and Dourhands were all re-spawned before the post hit the internet! I mean yeah, I know that roleplaying is all make-believe anyway ... but there is a point at which my suspension of disbelief just gets sprained. Yes, we can all Gather At a Webserver Round and pretend we're a bunch of elves, dwarves, and wizards in this fantasy world -- but on top of that, we have to pretend that the fantasy world we're "in" is actually behaving in the way we are, er, pretending it is, rather than the way it actually is. So we're not just rejecting reality, we're also rejecting the alternate reality of the MMO environment in order to use it as a kind of stepping stone to get to the shared mindspace of being on Middle Earth.

... That's ... a lot of work for what you get out of it. ...

I know, I know, it's just a game, I should really just relax. But these things bug me! I'd like to be able to just go along with the premise and say "Hurrah, the Waywatchers of Cardolan have done a great service!" -- but the "reality" (such as it is) of the world the Waywatchers of Cardolan inhabit, is that less than fifteen minutes later they might just as well have not done their patrol at all. The various players' individual enjoyment, and any loot or XP they might have picked up along the way, is all there is.

I just have a real hard time wrapping my head around that.

-The Gneech

[1] A clan of dwarves allied with Sauron, at least in the game -- I don't think they appear in Tolkien anywhere. But you need to have something to fight besides never-ending waves of orcs.

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Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
athelind
Apr. 5th, 2007 06:25 pm (UTC)
You've just summed up why I'll probably never play an MMORPG. In fact, I'm not really fond of table top settings like the old World of Darkness, either: there's all this Big Stuff going on, but it doesn't really matter what YOU do, because the Big Stuff will pretty much happen in the same way no matter what you do to help or hinder it.

If I'm going to role-play, I want to be the STAR. I don't want to be a background character in someone else's story, and I SURE don't want to be stuck in reruns of the same rote rigmarole that everyone else has been through.
laurie_robey
Apr. 5th, 2007 06:31 pm (UTC)
World of Darkness was particularly bad about that. In what I consider to be good RPGs, the actions of the player characters do have an effect on the course of events.
the_gneech
Apr. 5th, 2007 07:25 pm (UTC)
Well, you guys have certainly thrown monkeywrenches into Evard's plans, if that helps!

-TG
genecatlow
Apr. 5th, 2007 06:58 pm (UTC)
Aw, c'mon... you looked at a screen, you banged on keys, you burned up bandwidth! What else do you need? O_O

Hey, if you want to actually hold sway over an imaginary realm and make decisions that really matter, be a webcomic artist! ;)
the_gneech
Apr. 5th, 2007 07:24 pm (UTC)
*tosses a virtual custard pie at you* ;P

-TG
leoni2
Apr. 5th, 2007 10:42 pm (UTC)
Bwahahahahaha!!!
wbwolf
Apr. 5th, 2007 07:27 pm (UTC)
How about we split the difference...

Gene Catlow: The RPG?
genecatlow
Apr. 7th, 2007 08:25 am (UTC)
YEAAAAH! That'd make ME the head honcho. POWERRRRrrrrrr.... ^_^
exatron
Apr. 5th, 2007 07:35 pm (UTC)
Couldn't help it.
The goblins and Dourhands are respawning, Charlie.
the_gneech
Apr. 5th, 2007 07:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Couldn't help it.
This better be friggin' important. Is the Shire being scoured or something?

-The Gneech
exatron
Apr. 6th, 2007 12:14 am (UTC)
Re: Couldn't help it.
We're going to Mount Doom, Charlie! Mount Doom!
the_gneech
Apr. 6th, 2007 12:18 am (UTC)
Re: Couldn't help it.
Yeah, Mount Doom, uh huh. Right. I'm just gonna go back to sleep here...

-The Gneech
exatron
Apr. 6th, 2007 02:57 am (UTC)
Re: Couldn't help it.
Nooooo, Charlie, you have to come with us to Mount Doom. We'll destroy the one ring and Sauron. Mount Doom, Charlie.
the_gneech
Apr. 6th, 2007 11:15 am (UTC)
Re: Couldn't help it.
Does anybody besides me see a giant balrog on the other side of this bridge? Seriously, guys, we shouldn't be on this thing.

-The Gneech
exatron
Apr. 6th, 2007 11:36 am (UTC)
Re: Couldn't help it.
Charlie. Chaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrlllllllleeeeeeeeeey. We're on a bridge, Charlie.
the_gneech
Apr. 6th, 2007 11:47 am (UTC)
Re: Couldn't help it.
Letter Y: Yooooouuuuu shall not paaaaasssssssss!!!

-The Gneech
rhanlav
Apr. 6th, 2007 03:00 am (UTC)
Re: Couldn't help it.
Its a magical fell beast, Charlie! He's gunna tell us the way to Mount Doom!

--Salen
the_gneech
Apr. 6th, 2007 11:17 am (UTC)
Re: Couldn't help it.
*Eowyn lops off the fell beast's head*

He didn't say anything!

-The Gneech
rhanlav
Apr. 6th, 2007 03:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Couldn't help it.
Go into the Cave of Dunharrow, Charlie! Go into the cave, full of candy and sweets, and zombie ghosts kings! Yeah Charlie, go into the cave!

--Salen
hossblacksilver
Apr. 6th, 2007 08:08 am (UTC)
Re: Couldn't help it.
Absolutely, the orcs brought Brillo pads and Scrubbing Bubbles.
kesh
Apr. 5th, 2007 07:43 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's the biggest thing with MMORPGs vs regular CRPGs or tabletop RP: the monsters have to respawn, or no one else gets to do the quest.

Hell, in Warcraft, I ran through one particular dungeon at least 10 times on one character*, and funny enough, all the mini-bosses were alive again each time. It's really just something you have to run with.

There are a few things that can only be done once, like when the Anh'quiraj dungeon was opened for the first time. There was a big quest and the first person to complete it got to open the gates and received a unique mount. No one else on that server got one, just whoever finished that quest line first.

* Bad groups, kept flaking out before I could get to the main dungeon boss and kill him.
partiallyclips
Apr. 5th, 2007 09:58 pm (UTC)
I have a persistent fear that simulated achievement is replacing actual achievement, and draining away the mindshare of large portions of the creative class. The number of talented people I know who chose WoW over their webcomic or other creative pursuits is fairly depressing.

Kudos on being able to do both, Gneech. But I'm terrified of the damned things, myself. Won't touch em.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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