Friday, May 29, 2020

Cake/NotCake : LotRO

There's a promotion running in Lord of the Rings Online whereby all quested content for which you would normally have to pay is temporarily available, for free, to everyone. Standing Stone Games just announced an extension of the offer until the end of August.

They've also said that they're going to send out a "Coupon Code" in the next few days that will permanently enable all currently-available quest packs on your account. You have to use the code before August 31, after which, presumably, everything reverts to the status quo ante.

Here's my dilemma:

I love getting free stuff in games. I log into games I don't play just to grab things I'll never use. I've written about that quite a few times. This is a really big, really generous offer. Something no-one who dabbles even occasionally in LotRO would want to miss.

But... and here's the thing... I really don't like the questing in LotRO, something else I've written about a few times. How much more I've found myself enjoying the game when it wasn't shoving quests in my face every five seconds. Tedious, repetitive quests, written in a turgid style, presented in a jarring, jagged format, using an ugly, hard-to-read font.

When SSG began the current promotion I gave it a go and I did not have fun. Plugging away at some of the now-available quests, I found the xp "terrible" and the gameplay "teeth-grindingly tedious". Admittedly I wasn't in the ideal area and I was playing a Guardian, quite possibly the dullest class I've ever encountered in any MMORPG, but I had a much better time with the same character in the same place last time, when he couldn't get any quests at all.

What to do? Miss out on a very generous and ostensibly desirable freebie, something that goes entirely against my natural inclinations? Or take it and risk tainting forever what had been a charmingly pure and unsullied experience?

Of course I could take the offer and then never use it. Just because a bunch of NPCs suddenly decide they're willing to let me run errands for them doesn't mean I have to do exactly what they want, does it? But that would require self-restraint and frankly, if I had that kind of inner resource, I wouldn't be piling up presents I've no use for in games I don't play in the first place, now would I?

And there's the crux of it. I don't, in fact, "play" Lord of the Rings Online. I played it once, for about three or four months, I think it was, about ten years ago. After that it became one of the scores of games I keep on my hard drive, update occasionally, log into sporadically, either on a whim or when something like this happens.

If I'm being honest about it, more often than not, when I fire up any old MMORPG, ex-favorite or passing fancy, my primary motivation is to get a blog post out of it. I rarely even have the excuse of nostalgia. The main game I've been playing for about two or three years now is "blogging" and I suspect that will continue until someone actually makes and releases a new MMORPG worth thirty hours a week of my time.

Let's not despair. I have a plan. A way to have my cake, not have my cake and not leave my cake on the plate, either, all at the same time.

I have more than one LotRO account because of course I do. I have my regular account, the one I bought, paid for and subbed years ago, before there was any other way of doing it. That's the one I still play. But there was a time when you had to have a different account for the free trial, back before it all went free-to-play... or maybe it was when the ownership changed and you needed one to play on American servers instead of European ones or... I don't know. Or something. Reasons!

Anyway, I made another account and played on that for a while. I have characters on there. Not seen them for a few years. Can't remember their names. Or their classes. Or their levels. But they exist.

Here's what I could do. Use the Coupon on the account I usually play, thereby satisfying my urge to Get Stuff For Free. I could even log in Mrs. Bhagpuss's old account and flag that for a coupon too. That should satisfy my FOMO and sheer, pointless greed.

Then all I have to do is make sure not to log in the other account before September 1st. Shouldn't be difficult - I haven't logged it in for years. Then again, try not thinking of a purple elephant...

That way, on the rare occasions when I get the urge to log in and potter around in Middle Earth, I can choose between the productive-but-enervating quest version or the meandering-but-immersive alternative. It almost makes sense! (Not really...).

Even then, it's going to be tough. Standing Stone seem determined to get everyone questing, one way or another. Once the offer expires they'll be offering all "expansion pack quest content" in the store for a dollar each or 99 LotRO points, which you can fairly easily earn in-game.

If I'm reading the announcements and clarifications correctly, something I'm not convinced is the case, it's going to lead to a confusing situation from September onwards. We'll have subscribers with access to everything, legacy F2P players, who used the coupon, with all the non-expansion quests but nothing from the paid DLC, new F2P players with no quests other than the starting zones and a la carte F2Pers with whatever subset they've ponied up for at the time.

Just as well no-one really pugs quested content.


  1. Interesting. I played this awhile too just for my love of the books and lore. I found it a little boring but have always wanted to go back and see if it's changed any. Maybe I picked a boring class too. I should grab the coupon and log in just to have it if I do want to play again. I was no where near max level so these quests should work.

    1. I've never seen anything past the original game so I can't be sure but my suspicion is that nothing much does ever change. LotRO seems to be one of the least mutable of MMORPGs, possibly because of the I.P. and the restrictions that come with it.

  2. I was also giving LOTRO a break because the questing got tedious, but the free coupon is going get the game back on my hard drives. And things I download have a tendency of getting played.

    I think I'm also caught in a cycle I can't make heads or tails of.

    1. I really ought to buckle down and do some serious analysis of questing in MMORPGs one day. I've been thinking about it for years. I know LotRO quests are leaden but I haven't yet worked out to my own satisfaction why that is.

  3. Thanks for the heads up on this. Tried my best to use that promo code but it just wouldn't accept it on the LOTRO store website (which also fails to load properly in Firefox to start with) so I'm beginning to feel this is just a ruse to get people to make accounts.

    Making it difficult to use isn't really the best way to try take people from their other, more user friendly MMOs but based on what you posted here it doesn't sound like I'm missing out on much to begin with.


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