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I still haven't stepped back into World of Warcraft, though the lure is growing. The good folks at Turbine were kind enough to send me an invite to the Lord of the Rings beta (random, not because of my position here at TTH). When I receive a beta invite I tend to "test" rather than play. It's a double-edged sword as it ruins my ability to review the game in the future, but does allow me a glimpse into the minds of the development team as I watch what aspects of their title receive attention during the pre-release final building phase. What a team is concerned about during this phase tells much about what direction a game will take post-release.

LotRO is already a more polished game than many titles are at release. It has a certain World of Warcraft flavour blended with the spice of its Lord of the Rings background. The more you relate your play to the deep Lord of the Rings atmosphere the more you enjoy the game itself.

Ah yes, World of Warcraft. What would a MMOG article be without mention of WoW? I plan to head back and experience TBC. I played through the Blood Elf and Draenei starting areas with a couple of characters, but I never made it to outlands.

As I waited for TBC to be released was concerned that never being in a raiding guild I wouldn't be an effective group member or soloer for that matter in the expansion. How could I compete with players who had spent hundreds of hours raiding?

The answer: I don't have to. Blizzard upped the quality of the gear so much in the expansion that those hundreds of hours spent raiding were rendered mostly obsolete. I will be able to pop into the Outlands and loot gear on par or better than that worn by the Uber guild folks.

Is this fair to the raiders? It's probably not, but that said, it doesn't really matter. The expansion wasn't created for those players. It was created to bring back players who had unsubscribed. If those players can't compete in the new environment then all you are left with is the die-hards that stuck it out in the old content anyway and your expansion doesn't meet the financial expectations that your marketing team promised to the uppity-ups.

Another, less obvious reason for the escalation of power is that the expansion dungeons and other content need to be balanced. How do you create content that is enjoyable for raiders who have spent hundreds of hours getting the best gear as well as casual players who are decked out in all greens? The raiders need a challenge, yet the casuals will be frustrated by content beyond their capability. Answer: you level out the quality of the gear, giving the raiders a minor boost and the casuals a huge one. In the end, everyone can enjoy the new content and everyone feels more powerful, which is why many people play the game in the first place.

Is there a better way?

[Vote, rank, share, comment!]

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- John "Boomjack" Hoskin

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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Hoskin 0
Dissecting and distilling the game industry since 1994. Lover of family time, youth hockey, eSports, and the game industry in general.

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