Setting the Pace
From Relaxed to
Rushed...How Will LOTRO Measure Up?
My playing style is constantly
evolving. I started out in EverQuest (EQ) as a tender newb with no
distinct goals other than to explore and, hopefully, avoid death. (At
first, I wasnt terribly successful at the latter, but the former was
fun.) Eventually, I chose an EQ class that clicked with me, and I
learned to play a little harder and faster, and suddenly I wasnt
content just wandering Norrath; I wanted power, and cash, and items. I
wanted levels. I played just about every night, for hours on end, in my
quest to be the best.
But eventually I realized that no matter how good you get, theres
always going to be somebody better. I reached the upper echelons in my
small, casual guild, but Id never be one of the raid-equipped uber
elite. And so I made peace with the idea that I would probably always
be ahead of some, while lagging behind others. I was somewhere between
casual and hardcore, and that was okay. This trend seems to have
followed me from game to game, now, but I still feel the seductive tug
of fast and furious power leveling every now and then, even though I no
longer succumb to it.
Every game has to have something to drive its players. Generally, that
something is progress, and progress comes in the form of levels. How
you gain those levels depends on the game. Some games require the
endless slaughter of monsters, while others require the completion of
quests (which usually require the endless slaughter of monsters), or a
little bit of both. And in most games youll find a little of both
types of gamers, too--the glory-hungry power levelers, and the casual
gamers who enjoy taking their time and exploring.
Its pretty clear to me that Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) will
attract gamers who prefer a more leisurely pace, although I could be
wrong (its known to happen). Still, the evidence I see based on the
folks who frequent the official LOTRO forums suggests a potential game
population that is educated, literate (imagine that!), and mature. And
while Ive certainly come across intelligent and mature power gamers,
most of the real lore junkies who haunt the LOTRO forums and keep the
Turbine devs honest dont strike me as the sort of people who will go
rushing full tilt toward the endgame. Most seem to be of a mind that
LOTRO will be the sort of game thats meant to be savored.
But will LOTRO end up being too low-key? While theres certainly that
potential, I dont see how it can be. Despite the decidedly less
hardcore type of players the pre-beta game seems to be attracting, in
the end, LOTRO is still a game, and a massively-multiplayer game, at
that. This means that players are going to have to find some compelling
content within Turbines rendition of Middle-earth in order to keep
them playing...and paying a monthly fee. If the pace of the game is too
slow, eventually even the most dutiful explorers and roleplayers will
find themselves growing restless. This is a brilliant understatement,
but Ill say it anyhow: restlessness isnt good for subscription-based
style="border: 2px solid ; width: 150px; height: 110px;" align="left"
hspace="4" vspace="2">And when it comes to LOTRO, theres one
other preventative to it becoming a low-key and inevitably boring
game--an epic story. While Mordor wasnt breached in a day, and progress
toward the end of the War of the Rings was more of a steady journey
onward than a rush to completion at breakneck speed, there was never a
lack of things happening in Middle-earth. And while the endgame for
LOTRO remains a mystery (you know, once the One Ring tumbles into the
Crack of Doom, its sort of all over), there will certainly be
adventures to be had. The Fellowship needs aid, and Turbine has
promised that players will be able to give it.
Inevitably, while LOTRO remains a niche game that will never be all
things to all people (as if any game could be), the challenge that lies
ahead for its developers is to create a game that is as many things to
as many people as possible. LOTRO will need to have content to satisfy
players from one end of the spectrum to the other, from the crafters
and the socialites to the relaxed-paced casual crowd, and even to the
power gamers, few though they may be.
I mentioned that my playing style has evolved, and I think the same
sort of flux occurs with gamers in general. Whether its a niche game
or not, the pace of any successful MMOG needs to be flexible enough to
suit the changing needs of those who play it. You cant satisfy all of
the people all of the time, its true. But the game that satisfies most
of the people most of the time is destined for long-term success.
your gaming pace? Share your comments here!
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