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The Destiny of Lord of the Rings Online 184

An anonymous reader writes "Julian Murdoch over at Gamers With Jobs posits that the recently released Lord of the Rings Online, for all it's flaws, is a new kind of game — the Destiny-Locked RPG: 'The reason that Story sets LOTRO apart is because you know how it ends. This is a luxury World of Warcraft simply can never have. There is no logical end to WoW, where the evil WoW faction of the Horde is victorious, and every member of the good-aligned Alliance dies. The viciously PvP nature of EVE Online means that the story can only sit on the sidelines and inform, not take center stage. But in LOTRO, the game is the story. In this, the game has far more in common with Oblivion than it does with WoW.' The argument here is that a game in which the outcome is known is fundamentally a different (and possibly better) form of gameplay than that the current rage of emergent-gameplay sandbox weak storied games. A challenging idea." It's not so much that the game's ending is already known, as that there is an ending.
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The Destiny of Lord of the Rings Online

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  • Not the first... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by C0rinthian ( 770164 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2007 @09:15AM (#18939499)
    I think Star Wars Galaxies qualifies, as it's set between two pre-existing movies.

    I also think the fact that the story was already written was part of it's downfall. The developers had no room to work with because they would keep bumping into canon.
    • by Liquidrage ( 640463 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2007 @09:23AM (#18939615)
      Exactly. When SWG came out, I truely questioned the decision to place the game into a known timeline. KotOR, while a completely different type of game, showed what was possible when given dramatic license in a known universe. Parts of the world SWG, at it's launch, removed the one lone aspect of the SW that would have allowed for a good game. Namelt, the Force. I see similar issues with this LotR game. I tried it, but wasn't captivated. The lack of class variety, due to the game trying to hold onto the ideals of the time and place of the story around it, leaves much to be desired. If I play a LotR game, I want to be Gandalf. I don't want to be background_character_01 which is what the game forces you to be even though it does weave your toon into the tale. When you read LotR it's a tale full of magic and conflict and excitement. When you play this game, it's a game of 1000 dwarves with swords and no magic. Much like SWG removing the force, they've taken magic out of the game to hold true to the story and in the end it ruined the game for me.
      • by C0rinthian ( 770164 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2007 @09:31AM (#18939699)
        SWG set in the KotOR would have been perfect. Everyone could be some form of Jedi/Sith and it would fit the setting perfectly. They were just too hell-bent on using their recognizable charaters to sell the game. "ZOMG u cn tlak 2 VADAR!!1!"
        • by dc29A ( 636871 ) *
          SWG set in the KotOR would have been perfect.

          If you want to beleive rumors, Bioware is supposedly working on a Star Wars MMOG set in the KotOR time line.
        • "ZOMG u cn tlak 2 VADAR!!1!"

          What the hell does this statement even mean?
          • I was commenting on their use of their most recognizable characters to sell the game. Implying that the great unwashed was attracted to SWG by the possibility of interacting with such notable figures as Darth Vader.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by MontyApollo ( 849862 )
        Yeah, but do you really want 1000 Gandalfs running around...If you want to play Gandalf, a MMO is probably not the way to go. A single player game is probably more suited.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by MontyApollo ( 849862 )
          And... do you really want to see Gandalf getting his ass kicked by a slimy frog or a big rat when he is only level 1? Gandalf you know and love is probably like level 100 or something.
          • > Gandalf you know and love is probably like level 100 or something.

            Far greater than that. I know of no games where a topped out caster class could win a melee fight against a giant flaming demon.

            And that's ironic because caster classes in games are far better at ignoring giant swords swung at them from point blank range by ogres. Isn't it odd that they can't wear armor because it "disrupts their delicate spell-casting hand movements", yet they can completely ignore a 10 foot tall, 4000 lb. ogre stand
            • Far greater than that. I know of no games where a topped out caster class could win a melee fight against a giant flaming demon.
              Indeed. Gandalf always struck me as sort of deific, rather than just a high-level (or even epic-level) wizard. Magic is difficult to do believably, especially when the game has to be balanced with more than 2 sides. It can never be fun to play a game where a character can become gandalfesque in a reasonably short period of time.
      • by PHPNerd ( 1039992 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2007 @10:36AM (#18940617) Homepage

        When you read LotR it's a tale full of magic and conflict and excitement.
        Wrong. When you read LotR, magic is a very rare thing. Only 6 wizards have it, and even then, they use it sparingly. It also only HINTS at the elves ability to use it, never outright saying it (perhaps with the exception of Elrond and the river outside of Rivendell in FotR). Anyway, my point is, this game is very true to the novels: magic in the LotR universe is very rare and not seen very often. This comes in an age of gameplay where every shmuck and his dog can have magic (see: Any MMORPG). I, personally, love the way its made. Magic isn't special anymore when everyone is a Gandalf.
        • Re:Not the first... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ThousandStars ( 556222 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2007 @12:00PM (#18941955) Homepage
          Warning: LOTR nerd nitpicks ahead. There are only five wizards, two of whom are never named, and they don't use "magic" but have unusual power. Two of the wizards wander into the East and are never heard from again; Radagast is not terribly effective, Saruman lusts for power and becomes corrupt, and only Gandalf remains true to his purpose. The elves may or may not use the same thing, and they certainly do use what Sauron does, as Galadriel says in Book II of Fellowship in "The Mirror of Galadriel":

          'And you?' [Galadriel] said, turning to Sam. 'For this is what your folk would call magic, I believe; though I do not understand clearly what they mean; and they seem also to use the same word of the deceits of the Enemy. But this, if you will, is the magic of Galadriel. Did you not say that you wished to see Elf-magic?'
          Overall your point is well taken, and if everyone could use 'magic" in the way Gandalf does, the LOTR world would lose much of its appeal and just become another of the innumerable MMORPGs. Part of what's so special about Tolkien is that he doesn't translate well to video games, and his wars are not just modern combat but with funny clothes. When there's money to be made, however, the story can be damned.
          • Another nitpick: I think it'd be legitimate to count several other people as people who "have magic", even if not actually wizards -- definitely Sauron, for one, and the Lord of the Nazgul too. I'll leave it to the sibling posts to argue about elven "magic" :-) though I will observe that the "magic" duel between Luthien and Sauron is noteworthy.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MontyApollo ( 849862 )
          I don't think magic is that rare in the books, but that extravagant displays of magic are rare. You have elven swords that glow when orcs are near, the palantir, the gates of Moria respond to voice commands, trolls that turn to stone in sunlight, etc... The one ring and the 3 elven rings are of course magical.

          I like that they limit magic wielding players, but I hope the developers don't get caught up in the whole "magic is rare" thing in terms of player experience.
        • When you read LotR it's a tale full of magic and conflict and excitement.

          Wrong. When you read LotR, magic is a very rare thing. Only 6 wizards have it, and even then, they use it sparingly.

          I think you have confused Middle Earth with the tale LotR, a rookie mistake for a Tolkien geek. The story has lots of magic in it. There may only be a handful of "wizards," but you meet Gandalf, Saruman, Galadriel, Bombadil and Radagast in Fellowship alone. LotR is a high magic narrative set in a low magic world... t

        • No, when you *read* LotR it is a tale full of magic and conflict and excitement.
          I didn't say the entire land was, or how often the people that have it would use it while sitting on their poarch and nothing was going on, which was how you *tried* to correct me.
          Hence my point that I don't want to be background_charachter_01. You kind of took what I wrote the wrong way.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by theelectron ( 973857 )
        I don't think you realize what the game was initially supposed to be. It wasn't a game where everyone starts as a jedi: that was KotOR. SWG was... well, SWG. It was a MMORPG, not a MMOFPS. If you want that, go play PlanetSide. Galaxies had one of the most complex and fun as hell games when it first came out. They decided that wasn't good enough and made it easy to become a jedi and killed the game because now a bunch of people with a12 year old mentality are running around going 'OMG!1 I b jedi!one ch
        • by C0rinthian ( 770164 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2007 @11:48AM (#18941779)
          Actually, you nailed the issue with SWG. The developers thought everyone would be cool with being 'normal' people in the Star Wars universe. Not a very good assumption, as Jedi is the biggest draw to the franchise. To make matters worse, they set the game in a time period where Force user population was at it's lowest. According to canon, there were 3 educated force users in existance. Palpatine, Vader, and (arguably) Luke. No matter how rare you make player character force users, there are still too many to fit with canon. And if you make them really rare, then the playerbase bitches up a storm.

          Basically, SWG was in an unwinnable situation. If they gave their playerbase what they wanted, they killed lore. If they stuck to lore, then people didn't like the game.

          You seem to think that everyone playing mundane characters made the game good, and everyone being a Jedi/Sith would automatically make it bad. Why? Why can't the originally well done crafting system and economy work in a KOTOR setting? All the things that made the game good are not tied to the character archetypes available.
          • by CaseM ( 746707 )
            WTF, you forgot Yoda? Didn't SWG take place between Episode IV and V?
          • by Jaeph ( 710098 )
            Not just KOTOR (thought that would have been fine). They simply could have set it "10 years later" after the return of jedi. You have lots of freedom to write your own story, you have many of the main characters to draw upon, and you don't have to pigeonhole the imperials as "evil" and the rebels as "good" anymore.

            • Well since Anakin supposedly brought balance to the force by killing palpatine and kicking the bucket shortly after, the 'big conflict' between light/dark is gone. Although I don't know how much of the fiction written to take place after RotJ is considered canon, so I could be way off. I just think pre-trilogy is safer than post-trilogy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ( 760528 )
      I disagree, the problems facing SWG weren't really about its setting in time as it were, and if you disconnect from the movies to some extent it still is a believable mmo but it suffers so many game-play problems... (keeping in mind i've played it since about 3 months after the release of JTL) for eg:

      1) pvp - the pvp in this game was so badly thought out compared to just about ANY mmo out there (DAoC, WoW, EVE, etc)
      2) towns and building - great idea but very terribly implemented (take a look at the boundari
  • You got an extra http, Zonk.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'll remember that the next time I'm in SWG, getting a mission from the Emperor... ...who gets thrown down a shaft by Vader... ...who dies just before the second Death Star blows up.
    BTW, did you know he was Luke's father? Really!
  • The horde is not evil in WoW, the alliance isn't good either.
    Wow has had 3 maybe now 4 large world story events that were pretty hard to ignore. I thought that they were pretty fun, usually they opened up a new area or a new instance.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The horde is not evil in WoW, the alliance isn't good either.

      I disagree, and it bugs me a lot when people say that. Horde has always been the "evil" side in Warcraft. But that's a good thing. Trying to claim neither side is good or evil just waters down the game and makes it more bland and boring. I like playing the Good sometimes, and other times I like playing Evil.

      Also remember that while Blizzard has developed their own story and world (somewhat) everyone who uses Orcs in fantasy got them from Tolkien. And Tolkien's Orcs are evil through and through. Undead and

      • Classically they were evil. Now they just have evil factions and moronic players. However that apply to both sides. For the love of god, part of the human court is black dragons.
      • by SuperMog2002 ( 702837 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2007 @10:30AM (#18940527)
        I submit to you the following for consideration, all of which can be learned by doing the quests in Ratchet and Westfall. At the end of the third war (Warcraft III), both the Alliance and Horde capitals were destroyed. The leadership of both factions paid for skilled craftsmen to build new capital cities. Thrall, leader of the Horde, hired a group of goblins from the Steamwheedle Cartel to build the orcish capital of Orgrimmar. He was very grateful for the their fine work and paid them well. The goblins were impressed enough with the orcs that they decided to start their own port town not far from Orgrimmar (Ratchet).

        Meanwhile, the humans hired Edvin VanCleave and his guild of craftsmen to build the city of Stormwind. They likewise did an excellent job building the city. However, when they attempted to collect their pay after finishing, the government conveniently "forgot" that they had offered VanCleave any pay at all for his work. They threw him out on the streets of the city he built without a penny. Disillusioned with the kingdom of Stormwind, VanCleave and his guild reformed in to the Defias gang, who frequently terrorize Alliance players in the level 1 to 30 range. VanCleave himself is the last boss of Dead Mines, the first Alliance instance.

        Which one of these sounds evil to you?
        • by CaseM ( 746707 )
          VanCleave himself is the last boss of Dead Mines, the first Alliance instance

          Spoilers, man, spoilers!!!!
      • by shinma ( 106792 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2007 @10:31AM (#18940557) Homepage
        Which is why World of Warcraft's orcs, trolls, and even Forsaken, to a point, are interesting. They break the mold. You may not see it, because you assume they fit old stereotypes, but they don't. The Orcs, Tauren and Trolls are all generally honorable races. In some ways, they are more "good" than either the humans or the elves.

        Humans have enslaved Orcs and humiliated them for years, they kept them in concentration camps. Not to mention that one of their faction leaders is Onyxia.
        Night Elves are selfish and desperate, and they even made it possible for the Burning Legion to attack.
        Dwarves are nearly as bad as the Venture Co. at destroying the environment they live in, and therefore they clash with the nature-loving Tauren.
        Gnomes IRRADIATED their own city to drive out invaders, and now they sponge off the Dwarves.
        The Draenei are the opposite of the Blood Elves, in that they are ostensibly the only race in the game that can be called unreservedly "good." (This kind of falls flat when you consider hints that the Naaru aren't exactly the angels they're cracked up to be, and the Draenei become simply "naive" rather than truly "chosen" or anything of the sort.)

        Orcs were oppressed, put into concentration camps and simply want their own homeland where people will leave them alone now. Sound familiar?
        Tauren are members of the Horde because the orcs saved them from the centaurs that were invading their home. They are extremely honorable.
        The Darkspear Trolls have forsaken cannibalism and embraced the Shamanistic culture of the Orcs.
        The Forsaken have a faction that wants to kill everyone, yes, but other members are described by humans near Dalaran as "possessing more humanity than my fellow humans."
        The Blood Elves are, arguably, the only truly "evil" race in the game. But even they are portrayed as more or less out of control, rather than blatantly malicious.

        Everyone in Azeroth is generally far more nuanced than simple "good" or "evil." If you choose to only see the races as Tolkienn portrayed them, you're missing out on a lot of the story of World of Warcraft.
        • The blood elves are... elves. The blood nights are the sith basically. Everyone else is to busy going "I need me some magic.." to be really evil.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by feyhunde ( 700477 )
          Good and Evil are subjective in WoW. For the most part, everyone has good reasons for their evil acts.

          The Orcs, for instance, are mostly interested in cleansing themselves of their demon taint and protecting themselves from external threats. However, these societies are not monolithic. Thrall's New Horde only has about 3 clans worth of Orcs (Most of the Frostwolf, Warsong and Shattered hands exist as clans, the rest don't have clans). And there are Orcs in the horde that are double agents for the demons. De
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by misleb ( 129952 )

        Trying to claim neither side is good or evil just waters down the game and makes it more bland and boring.

        I couldn't disagree more. What is boring are simplistic labels like Good and Evil. Good is never good as seems on the surface and Evil always has its side to the story. I guess there is still room for the superficial battles between Good and Evil, but truely rich, engaging, insightful stories have a depth that is beyond good and evil. Sometimes it is more like "light" and "dark," but I think that i

        • I disagree with both of you... and agree with both of you. :)
          I enjoyed Tolkien for the mythological war between good and evil and the pure-hearted heroes like Sam.
          I also very much enjoyed the adult viciousness and verisimilitude of Martin's character's shades of gray, as well: []
          • by misleb ( 129952 )
            Hmm, it isn't that I mind the themes Good and Evil being examined in a story or game. I just don't really care for a story that portrays the "evil" side as soulless and devoid of any real purpose other than "evil for the sake of evil." This was a bit of a turn-off with Tolkien.
      • by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2007 @11:53AM (#18941843) Homepage
        In a lot of ways, World of Warcraft is a critique of the Tolkienesque ideas of good and evil. Tolkien might be said to combine a Christian metaphysics of good and evil with English cultural imperialism: for the most part, the heroes are the "Men of the West" while the villains are "swarthy," dark-skinned, uncivilized, etc.

        Blizzard took this set-up and exposed it as being a reflection of European colonialism and imperialism. The Alliance is trying to "clean up" the land, getting rid of those cultures that don't resemble itself sufficiently. The result reveals just what the historical cultural origins of the traditional heroic fantasy categories of "good" and "evil" races really is - a veiled form of racism.
      • by brkello ( 642429 )
        Not really. In the previous Warcrafts the Orcs are insane with bloodlust from an external force (forgive me for not remembering the exact lore). The Orc that you play in WoW have broken free of that and are pretty nice (though a bit primitive). They rescued the trolls and the tauren from being whiped out from other agressors. Tauren are probably the nicest race in the game as they just really care about nature. Humans, on the other hand, burn with racism and are unable to see how the Orcs have broken f
    • During warcraft 2 and before orcs were inherently evil, but if you go through the warcraft3 series they turn out to not be all that bad. As with all races there are good and bad in each. In war3 at one point all the races worked together to defeat archimode at the world tree. so neither side is good or bad. The horde and the alliance just have different views on things and really Medivah( a Human) is to blame for the whole thing, opening the portal to the orcs home world. So if anything humans are evil. Th
      • by paitre ( 32242 )
        This honestly may be in the cards for the next expansion.

        Wouldn't surprise me in the least, TBH.

        Be -very- interesting to see how it were to play out on the RP AND RP-PVP servers.
      • Having played through both sides, the matter is extremely complex. Both sides are an association of mismatched characters and groups that may have different agendas, some which are know, some which are hidden. The Tauren, for example, can be said to be the least corrupted/evil of all the races, yet one of the chief advisors of the Tauren chieftain is the clan leader of the Grimtotem clan who are in fact allied with the Twilight Hammer: an organisation attempting to bring back to Old Gods (Cthulhu-like, extr
      • and really Medivh( a Human) is to blame for the whole thing, opening the portal to the orcs home world
        Medivh himself may be human, but he was actually under the control of Sargeras (a very powerful Eredar/Demon) during that whole "Opening the Portal" thing. There are kinda hints during the Karazhan quest that hint that the "real" Medivh, the human trapped within, is actually a good guy.
        • There are kinda hints during the Karazhan quest that hint that the "real" Medivh, the human trapped within, is actually a good guy.

          Did you play Warcraft III? Medivh is certainly a good guy now, whether or not he was responsible for his earlier actions. He's the prophet who tries to lead everyone to Kalimdor, where he knows the only chance to resist the Burning Legion exists. He is the prime mover in creating the grand Horde--Night Elf--Human alliance that beat the Burning Legion and killed Archimonde.


        • Nerdy nitpick, Sargeras wasn't Eredar. He was a Titan.
    • You misspelled "easy to ignore".

      World events in WoW are designed to be entirely missable.
  • by GrnArmadillo ( 697378 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2007 @09:22AM (#18939593)
    Unfortunately, the well-defined "end" to LOTR has resulted in the first licensed game I can think of where you can't actually go to most of the cool locations from the book (and movies, though Turbine doesn't have that particular license) because the plot hasn't advanced that far yet. They CAN'T expand into Mordor because once they do, that's Game Over. They can't expand to the White City or Rohan because that would make the game half over. They're not even adding the Mines of Moria during the game's first year of release (according to a recent dev chat), cause that would make the game 1/4 over.

    The challenge for Turbine is that, with the "ending" (and so much about locations in the middle) already known, players want to actually get there sometime. That's a problem when your business model is, essentially, stalling the players for time as you continue to collect your monthly fees.
    • They should use a model similar to that in the old BBS game Legend of the Red Dragon. Sure, the game wasn't really as story driven, but the point is that the story completed and someone won every few months or so and then it started again. Typically you had to start your players from scratch, but I suppose there's no reason there can't be several versions of the world with different difficulties so that you can keep advancing your character further each time you play. Since the story is already known, it do
    • One could argue that such places are not exclusively there for the heroes to visit. For example we know Rohan fought Orcs while not involved in the main conflict, purely because they kill Orcs. Why not add the area and then add stuff tto the area as the plot advances?

      Start out with small scale orc patrol type quests, move onto word of strangers in the area, advance to them arriving and doing the whole kicking wormtongue out thing and then they pass on and the area can become harder (less riders around for o
    • I think people will be fairly patient - they too know the closer you get to Mordor the closer the game will be to being over, so for the time being I think many people will be content to explore the areas as they become available.

      An interesting part of the game is seeing aspects of the war unfold that were barely mentioned or just hinted at in the books, and right now I am content to explore that(though this may change.)

      I am more interested in the war in lorien, mirkwood, the lonely mountain, the iron hills
    • They can have mordor, and the mines of Moria, and Rohan and all the other lovely cities and still keep to the story.

      We dont know exactly when the mines were overrun (maybe it's in one of the books), we just know they were at some point within a few years. They could simply have the mines open with some quest to get inside. Key rooms should remain sealed to preserve the "books" timeline showing undisturbed bodies and the journal.

      Rohan and the white city can all be in the books. You're questing during a time
  • Sagely words (Score:2, Insightful)

    by navygeek ( 1044768 )
    True, there's an ending and we know what it is. But it's not so much the destination as the path we follow, right or wrong.

    To put it another way, and to quote a very fine show -

    BOOK: 'Cause how you get there is the worthier part'
  • The whole point.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    Isn't the whole point of a company making an MMORPG to not have a ending? I mean if they want to rack in the cash, why would they ever think of making an ending to their game? Like WoW they just keep adding new areas to give more quests to make more cash. The only possible ending for WoW would be that they open up northernd and you have to kill Arthas on on the frozen throne. That is where warcraft 3 left off was evil technically winning. So knowing the end is ok but it's better to not have one if you want
    • Why can't an MMORPG have an ending? Thats a pretty narrow definition. Most RPG's have endings. How does adding the "Massive Multi-Player Online" to that suddenly change anything? I agree that in some ways it doesn't make the best business sense but I do like the idea of a strong story and a strong story has an ending.

      Granted I'm not one who is going to invest years of my life into a game so I don't really care if they try and milk an idea for every last cent.
    • Re:The whole point.. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Rhys ( 96510 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2007 @11:03AM (#18941061)
      Everyone keeps bringing this up as a point "they just want to keep you hooked and paying."

      I'm not sure that's the case with LOTRO. The $199 lifetime membership, while steep, has to be a break-even point for Turbine. The other pre-order option is a $10/month lifetime rate, which lets you calculate that at $199 they expect you to play for about 20 months over the lifetime of the game. They've already built in an end to the game. The fact they give a lifetime membership tells you that much. If they are really smart, they're going to run the MMO through the story of ME, and then close it down shortly after the war.

      Given a usual rate of expansions (free or paid), you can estimate the story will finish in 3-5 years. In which time the graphics will have started looking fairly dated. Either they'd have to go back and refresh them (lots of art and dev time)... or they could be in their twilight and say, "story's about to be over folks, we're not doing that sorry! But look at our next project: B5 Online!"

      It'll be interesting to see how it plays out. Especially given this is Turbine aka "exploit early, exploit often." They've had one semi-successful games and two flops, one of which closed just after three years.
      • by brkello ( 642429 )
        $200 the break even point? That doesn't even make sense. It depends on how many people are playing the game. The lifetime membership was limited time only and I am sure it was just to get some quick cash to make up their production cost. They now have a pay scale on par with every other MMO out there.

        They are going to run the game as long as it is profitable to do so. They won't "finish" the story line. Or if they do, they will leave it open for people to complete and then add on new content that exte
        • by Rhys ( 96510 )
          They expect anyone who pays for the $199 lifetime membership to play for about as many months as anyone who pre-orders and gets the $10/month for life payment plan. At least, assuming the corporation is acting rationally. Otherwise they're either overcharging or undercharging, both of which are a non-ideal state.

          Judging how long they run a game on pure "is it profitable" isn't what they'll be doing. They'll judge it on opportunity-cost as well. In order to keep their people working on LOTRO, they're going t
    • Isn't the whole point of a company making an MMORPG to not have a ending?

      Technically, World War II Online has an ending when one side wins or looses and the server resets and they go back to starting era weapons and vehicles.
  • For all it's flaws? (Score:2, Informative)

    by fr175 ( 999487 )
    I find LOTRO to be nearly flawless when compared to other MMOs. LOTRO had about as smooth a launch as one could hope for and put other MMOs to shame in this regard. Also, allowing characters to transfer from Beta to Live, and discounted pricing for pre-orders, is a welcome "innovation."

    The Epic quest series, which follows the hobbits progress in the books, is amazing. The scripted story events are highly immersive and impressive.

    Sure, the economy could use some work, and other tweaks can be made.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hydian ( 904114 )

      I find LOTRO to be nearly flawless when compared to other MMOs. LOTRO had about as smooth a launch as one could hope for and put other MMOs to shame in this regard. Also, allowing characters to transfer from Beta to Live, and discounted pricing for pre-orders, is a welcome "innovation."

      This is Turbine's 4th MMORPG release, so you would think that they'd be able to manage a launch by now. Allowing preorders to get into the game early (which is not really allowing beta characters to transfer over to live) and pre order discounts is hardly innovative as that has been done for quite a while now.

      As far as flaws go, it certainly isn't flawless. Don't get me wrong, the game has great stories and is awesome in a lot of ways. It's obvious that they let DDO flounder in order to devote more reso

  • by DLG ( 14172 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2007 @09:37AM (#18939815)
    As a preface, I spent some 10 years as an administrator at a LOTR based MUSH. With a time ratio of 3:1 It meant 3 years in Middle Earth (ME) went by in 1 year of real life. For you hobbits, that means that you give a birthday party every 4 months. Having started to play just a few years before the third age yr 3000, there was little real concern about what would happen in the 5 or so years when we had to actually stage the War of the Ring. Original founders had not really considered this an issue as the point was to create an environment for RP in the Tolkien world, not to play out the script of the books. However there was always some pressure from various philosophies of role play and game play in general, on whether we should in some way develop the long term story arc and whether to allow deviations from the general thread of events. This becomes pretty complicated as Tolkien had a sort of longer story arc than most, with events that occurred thousands of years before, in books some of the players had never read, having some impact. In fact, the more a player knew, and cared about Tolkien, the harder it was to play the game, knowing that on the one hand they might realisticly play their characters role, and on the other hand, they might run into situations where quality role play and story making conflicted with the actual plot in ways that only an expert might detect ahead of time.

    This meant the typical uses of comic book/soap opera/RP retcon techniques (retroactive continuity...) which, ill used, creates a hostility so fierce that the term retcon in the MUSH gained the status of fighting words, i.e., if you did not intend to cause someone to freak out and begin an anti-fascist march at your home, you said things like 'we might want to adjust the outcome to match the theme a little more closely, and perhaps there is some backstory we could RP out to clarify why your character suddenly had to NOT slay Boromir as a 12 year old for kissing your pig. (That never happened... Or did it! Retcon!)

    Anyway, the point is that, there were legitimate arguments to let things play out as if we got to year 3000 and let things diverge. There were others that said, lets get to year 3008 or so and then freeze until we figure things out, allowing the game clock to advance but maintaining the pre LOTR environment. Others wanted to move towards a sort of scripted version of the war, but of course focus also on the places that were not described, to explore how such a big event effected the other populations. (Places mentioned in a sentence have a whole life when you have 2000+ active players trying to play their favorite characters)

    As an admin, alot of my effort was aimed towards providing guidance in resolving conflicts both operationally and thematically.

    Now LOTR Online is not a MUSH. Players do not drive the content the same way. Most folks just want to see the sights and participate in the battles, and get that Tolkien feel. But the fact is that I won't be playing this game, having spent a decade of my life trying to combine fun, Tolkien, role play, and computers. I will never be real happy watching hordes of hobbits wandering around, making Frodo and Bilbo seem like homebodies, nor will Noldo elves dancing topless on mailboxes make me happy.

    I prefer original works of fantasy. I love to read Tolkien. I first read the hobbit when I was 6, and was done with all the books (including Silmarilian which had just recently come out in soft cover) by the time I was 8.

    I am glad more people are buying the books, and are excited by what I consider some of the greatest examples of story telling and most graceful uses of the English language. But to claim that knowing what will happen makes a game more playable, or that such an idea is new, is really quite absurd. There have been 100's of games in which we know the story. And if you really expect LOTR online to END for plot purposes, rather than because they are no longer making money, you are in the gardens of Lorien, dreaming away.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bodrius ( 191265 )
      I'd like to say I'm shocked and surprised at your tale, and hope that you're just too jaded by past experiences to give the game an honest chance.

      But I have to admit, that Boromir always seemed a bit shifty to me.

      I wouldn't be surprised if pig-related incidents happen again on LOTR online.
      • by DLG ( 14172 )
        Trust me. I didn't go see the movies because my wife forbade me, since we both knew that I would start screaming.

        I am sure lots of folks will have fun frolicing around in what is no doubt a beautiful depiction of middle earth. I just don't see how they can do anything to make it a place where people actually try to be part of a the world, rather than grinding, farming, and otherwise conducting themselves as they do in all MMORPG's
        • by DLG ( 14172 )
          As an example of why my head would explode. From the FAQ:

          Will we be able to meet some of the characters from The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit?

          While adventuring in LOTRO, you will encounter many of your favorite characters from the books. At times they will be directly part of your story! What's the Prancing Pony without Barliman Butterbur? The Old Forest without Old Man Willow? Thorin's Halls without...Thorin?

          I mean even assuming that they are aware of Thorin being dead for 80 years, Thorin considered Er
  • Come on, the destruction of the ring is NOT the ending of the story! Look at what happened after the ring was destroyed: Hobbits go home, and find the Shire enslaved! Just because Sauron is gone doesn't mean that there is nothing else to do. New enemies come and go. Really, the destruction of the ring is merely the end of the Third Age. Fourth age begins. Once you get there, you have a HUGE world to add all sorts of fun stories to.
    • by DuckDodgers ( 541817 ) <> on Tuesday May 01, 2007 @10:25AM (#18940457)
      The problem with that in the setting is that the Fourth Age is the age of man. The elder elves head across the sea. The wizards are gone (although if you read the Silmarillion, some of the other wizards are still out there somewhere). The rings of power that survived are powerless.

      Tolkien's books have the really cool events in the ancient past, the moderately cool events in the distant past, the last little footnotes to the story happen in [i]The Hobbit[/i] and [i]The Lord of the Rings[/i], and everything gets really boring afterwards.

      I think anyone writing a Middle Earth MMORPG should toss that out the window - invent lieutenants of Melkior and new species that remained hidden. Invent new rules for regular humans to master the magic of Gandalf or Saruman. Basically Dungeons and Dragons'ify Middle Earth for the sake of making the game interesting. But I bet millions of diehard fans would call it blasphemy.
  • I would say that the story in WoW is pretty front and center. Yeah, there are a heck of a lot of people who pay little attention to it, but it's there and everywhere. Major characters from the previous games appear and get offed (truly dead or not, who knows). We just don't know what the end of that story is yet. I suspect the Blizzard lore folks don't completely know themselves, but they've probably got a good idea at a high level.
  • Just think - if they really stick to the story, after you defeat Sauron and save the world from darkness, you get to go back to the shire and gank a bunch of low-level humanoids, plus a wizard who's been stripped of his power.

    Anticlimactic much?

  • In case anybody wants to RTFA: []
  • "There is no logical end to WoW, where the evil WoW faction of the Horde is victorious, and every member of the good-aligned Alliance dies."

    The Horde is actually only trying to survive, they only defend themselves from the Alliance.

    The Alliance is full of evil people who are trying to gain more power, at any cost, and they brought the Demons into the world to begin with.
  • "Evil" Horde? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jgoemat ( 565882 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2007 @12:01PM (#18941975)

    The Tauren live a peaceful existence in tune with nature. The current orc ruler Thrall was enslaved as a child by humans and forced to fight gladiator-style battles by his captors until freed. The undead are a group that freed themselves from control by the scourge and merely attempt to survive against the "Alliance" that would do them harm. The trolls ruled an empire until the Night Elves delved into destructive magic and destroyed it, luring the Burning Legion to Azeroth in the process. The high elves created a kingdom on the sacred ground of the trolls, and the trolls would have reclaimed it if not for the aid of the humans.

    The original orcs that came to Azeroth (with the help of a human named Medivh) were corrupted, but what makes you call the current members of the Horde evil?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The fact that they gank me until the cows come home in STV and Outlands. I couldn't care less about their backstory. Their actions, on the other hand, are pure evil. Well, enough horde is like that to warrant their destruction. So I kill on sight. Wait, what - horde says that's what makes Alliance evil?

      I think we have just identified the root cause of the problem. People are, on average, assholes.
    • Ugly == Evil
      Pretty == Good
      Also, the whole modern fantasy concept of Orcs and Trolls and Undead came from Tolkien, and in Middle Earth, they are pretty much evil. Also in D&D, orcs and trolls and undead were monsters to be fought, not playable character races - aside from half-orc (and you know how that happened). [] was the first game I experienced that let you play as a troll or orc (or evil human: Black Numenoreon). And being a Tolkien based game, those characters were firmly on the
    • The undead are a group that freed themselves from control by the scourge and merely attempt to survive against the "Alliance" that would do them harm.

      Well, explain then what is going in Undercity? Undead torturing and experimenting on humans. That is not evil in any way?

      And what is going on with those Undead lunatics who want to kill all humans? (hint: plaguelands) Undead want to kill everyone on Alliance side, not only Scarlet Crusade. Alliance wants to get rid of Scarlet Crusade because SC wants to kill t

  • I would like to point out that Guild Wars has a definite storyline with a definite ending too. That doesn't mean there isn't still plenty to do after the end of the main storyline. But it is evidence that a MMORPG can have a distinct storyline and still have the fun of side-quests, guild battles, group raids, new content, etc. Just because a game is massive, multi-player, online, and an RPG doesn't mean it has to be a complete sandbox.
  • Just like the Titanic was a new type of movie - a destiny locked movie. You know how it was going to end. This made it totally unique! (hopefully obvious sarcasm)

    No, sorry, it is just an MMORPG like any other. It has classes, quest, XP, and loot. But instead of having a free universe where they can make up whatever they want, they are now constrained to Tolkein's world. But are they really? I am sure they can write their own lore if they have/want/need to. There aren't going to be a million one ring

Some people manage by the book, even though they don't know who wrote the book or even what book.