08 April 2010

A Certain POV.

I had been experiencing a bit of a lull in my favorite MMOG (and thus, my favorite game at the moment). There comes a point with these games where you just don't know what to do; leveling up another character sounds bland, maxing out my main character seems like a lot of work, harvesting/crafting/festivals and other non-action oriented content doesn't thrill. With LotRO, however, there comes a great enjoyment from simply being a live in Middle-earth. As I've said before, its literary precedent and source gives it a lot of muscle in the gaming department and so even menial tasks can be fun in the right place, when presented in the right way. But what I've come to find about myself and LotRO is that seeing things the right way adds a new perspective on the game.


For instance, I used to not give two flaming pristine hides about crafting. It was more a nuisance than anything else because in the end it was just refining stacks of raw materials (or, waiting while your character does that), sorting through massive and unintuitive lists of craftable items, and then hoping you picked one that's better than what you have. It has taken me a long time to figure out crafting, in part because I hadn't picked the right sort. My main character is a woodworker and, well, that's kind of boring. You mainly just craft bows but you can also craft instruments. I didn't really care because, quite honestly, you can just sell the wood for some profit and then buy what you want from another player or, better yet, get a friend to make it for free.

But there comes a point where self-sufficiency is its own reward. Hunting down resources and recipes, being able to make what you want, when you want it and have your own little enclave of crafters is just fun and cool and rather dwarvish! What's even more fun is playing the auction house. Not unlike the nuanced, macroeconomic world of EVE (okay, maybe on a much smaller scale), LotRO has its own competitive economy by way of the auction house and its easy to make a few coins there, a practice which my wife has nearly mastered.

Apart from crafting there are other aspects of the game I am only now beginning to try to understand, whereas before I left them untouched because they were "boring". Things like finding the best combination of traits for one's character. This has mainly been inspired by my love of the Burglar and the excitement for trying him in endgame groups (though that is a long ways off). Learning how to play a class better, instead of just blowing through content, is motivation in and of itself. Looking at the various factions, their reputation rewards, and other locales for picking up unique recipes and items; a process I'd previously overlooked as "tedious". There are also countless deeds to be done, skirmishes to be run, skirmish rewards to be seen and taken, soldiers to be built up and more.

I think the lesson here is twofold: in part, my growing enthusiasm for new parts of LotRO comes from outside sources like my wife's vehement newbie enthusiasm or great folks out there in the blog community, like A Casual Stroll to Mordor. Like so many things, we need other people to remind us why we loved in the first place; a different point of view can be fresh eyes even for something that is old and seemingly tired. I am also discovering that things I see as boring or tedious simply aren't; they're just different. They may require a healthy curiosity that I'm beginning to develop in a tired and jaded MMO world.

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