Monday, 6 April 2009


What of Lothlórien? First of all, of course, it is visually stunning, above all the forest itself: impressively unlike anything we've seen so far, and, as it ought to be, ever so slightly spooky both by day and by night. The contrast with the gloom of Moria makes it that much more effective. I would also rate the epic storyline of Volume II, Book 7 very highly; it can easily be completed solo by anybody who has reached level 60, has a good, strong plot line and maintains its interest to the end (though I admit to finding the ultimate fate of the book's principal villain excessively tame, even rather wishy-washy).

On the other hand, I am disappointed by many of the quests which must be completed in order to gain favour with the Galadhrim, far too many of which are ridiculously trivial and even foolish. This is, I concede, a standing problem with all computer role-playing games, whether online or not, and one which becomes particularly acute in our case, where we are all playing notional second fiddle to the Fellowship: on the one hand the individual player is involved in events of epic scope and grandeur, but on the other, he or she must constantly be brought back down to earth lest he become too big for his boots (and for the lore).

Fair enough. One day Warlord of Angmar and Slayer of Thaurlach, the next begging Galadhrim guardians for the right to enter Lorien, or fending off Anduin lizards; that's the way an adventurer's life goes. But to be invited to go picking berries and mushrooms, or to be treated as a pack mule and instructed to carry supplies right, left and centre is really a bit much; where were you, buster, when we were killing Thorog in Helegrod? Such piffling quests do nothing to maintain suspension of disbelief, and are really a sign of laziness or lack of inspiration on the part of the developers. Obviously there will have to be grinding - but let it at least be inventive and preferably adventurous grinding, not this poor "kindly step out and get me a pint of milk, boy" household chore stuff.


Jaxom92 said...

I agree that too often we see trivial quests in LOTRO that don't quite fit the lore. I think we should be wary of calling the developers "lazy". At the very least it's simply an overused criticism. At the worst it's simply an insult, not a criticism. Trying to construct unique quests that reconcile lore and game play is a very difficult thing - especially under a deadline.

The problem we're seeing in what you bring up here is only a symptom of a much larger issue in the grand Lore Versus Gameplay battle.

Kairos said...

"Lazy" in this case was not really a moral judgment, more a suspicion that it's often easier to pick up a tried-and-tested design (in this case the hoary old "take these coals to Newcastle" quest) than to try and come up with something new, or at least an interesting variant on something old. And the problem with that isn't so much that it betrays the lore as that it makes for poor gameplay...

Anonymous said...

Yeah - Epic Master Flowerpicker... that's me :(

On another note, at least two quests are not working as intended, the Anduial River Patrol one and the Forest Skirmish one, both with much greater potential than flower picking ! :) Hope they get fixed soon.