LotRO Endgame thoughts.

Palantir

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We should soon find out with the Rohan Expansion how much “effort/detail” Turbine is going to put into LotRO, more specifically with Gondor/Minas Tirith in what may be the final two year of the game. Their current LotR license goes till 2014. Several posts on their forum suggest that the staff working on the game has already been cut back.
I think the keys will be found within the town of Edoras & depth of the Rohan quests. Edoras is the second most inhabited location in Middle Earth after Minas Tirith. Past game history shows us that while there may be dozens of buildings as in Bree only handfuls are more than facades. The last such location, the Dunland town of Galtrev, is even more limited with only 3 interior locations.
If Edoras is on the same scale as Bree (which it should be at least) there should be equally as many interior places to explore. This would show a healthy staff still at work on the game. But if it turns out more like Galtrev with the bare number of interior locations then I’d say we could expect the same of Minas Tirith.
My guess is that while Minas Tirith will be a huge city to look at only the lowest level will be “alive” with a bare number of interior locations. Most things will be outside at a central plaza in the open. The ability to travel freely throughout the city will probably be nonexistent as well. You will instead get specific quests / instances on the first level that will zip you up into the seventh level & palace. (They have to give you a chance to look out over the Pelennor Field from the top.)

Another tack that is possible and more desirable from a questing standpoint IF the game is coming to a close in 2014 (Does the game just stop or does it just mean they can’t add new material?) is that all the design effort instead is going to go into the Epic Story & supporting quests.
The quests should be extensive and have detailed stories beyond the normal go kill X number of orcs, wargs & evil trees in Fangorn. Cookie cutter quests again do not bode well for the game lasting beyond 2 more years. If they are it would seem more like they are hurrying to get players thru Rohan, into & out of Gondor, across the river & straight into Mordor (skipping Northern Ithilien).
I haven’t read anything concerning the Battle of Helms Deep the most massive battle of LotRO to come along by far. Probably have to be a special “expansion” with a series of separate instances that have to be done in an exact order. How detailed they are will also be a marker on how much time we have left to get to Mordor. Same goes for the Battle of Minas Tirith, those as big battles to portray on an 1:1 scale.
I’ll admit I’d rather get into Mordor before the games ends than look inside a bunch of buildings. But if the game continues beyond 2014 fleshing out some settings would be nice. Although once again, the lack of any redesign of the Housing situation does not look good for any “fleshing out” beyond what is essential to get players to Mount Doom.
I’d love the game to continue and have to fight Easterling’s in Rhun, the Black Numenorean’s in Harad & the Corsairs along the coasts of Gondor & quest my way to Umbar. Not to forget all the land around North Mirkwood &the Lonely Mountain.
Your thoughts… (Ya I know, no comment from the other 99% of you readers)
 

Redwolf

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Pretty sure the license is already extended.

I agree on Minas Tirith. The way it's going the walkable part will at best be like Bree. Fair amount of buildings but nothing in them.
 

Palantir

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That's good news.
The Dev's it seems ARE putting a lot of energy into the "Mounted Combat" system in Rohan which would indicate the game is healthy & going to charge into Mordor not limp.
If not why put so much work into something that will not last very long?

I certainly hope it is so, I enjoy the game and want to be playing it more than just two more years.
 

jwb3

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My guess is that while Minas Tirith will be a huge city to look at only the lowest level will be “alive” with a bare number of interior locations. Most things will be outside at a central plaza in the open. The ability to travel freely throughout the city will probably be nonexistent as well. You will instead get specific quests / instances on the first level that will zip you up into the seventh level & palace. (They have to give you a chance to look out over the Pelennor Field from the top.)
As usual, this comment is based purely on my experience with D&D Online, but I'll take the liberty of including a hypothetical future me in "us":

If they did actually give us all seven levels of Minas Tirith to travel freely through, what would we actually do with them? I mean, sure, the ability to actually wander through the place as if it's real is sort of the "Holy Grail" of LotR fans, and on some level the thought makes me salivate. But how many times are you going to do that in the life of the game?

And once you've done it enough to appease the fan in you, it goes back to being an MMO game, and the rather large distances involved become a turn-off, more than anything else.

In DDO, the heart of the game is the city of Stormreach, a public area which is made up of about a dozen distinct zones -- wards, districts, enclaves, what have you, each separated by gates, and clicking on the gate loads the next zone. Each of these is probably notionally similar to one of the upper levels of Minas Tirith (obviously, an accurate MT's levels should vary hugely in size from the bottom one to the palace level).

It takes maybe 15-30 seconds to cross a zone. I know that because I was just able to sit here and imagine myself doing my standard route through a certain zone or two; the timing is burned in my brain, I run them so often. It gets rather dull, really. This is likely to be less of an issue in LotRO, because the city will be just one more step along a relatively linear journey, whereas DDO uses more of a hub-and-spokes model that has you passing through Stormreach constantly over the life of your character. But still... imagine you're at the base of Minas Tirith, having just returned from your quest to do ____, and turning it in requires you to go to the palace. Just how many real minutes are you willing to spend running through the city to get there?

In other words, do we really want the whole city of Minas Tirith?

In DDO a fair amount of effort has actually been put into decreasing the amount of time people have to spend running through the city. And yet I'm still bored with it all and wish there was a... well, as Palantir put it, "most things outside at a central plaza in the open". There are a number of interior locations in Stormreach that I never go to visit, because there's no game reason to do so -- and that's good because it means less running around.

Now, the good news is that in DDO, whole sections of the city are brought to life... inside quests. There are some really fun quests that involve moving around areas of the city that don't exist as public instances. In LotRO terms, it would be like having only a small area of the 1st level of MT be accessible most of the time, but when you play x mission that represents the siege of the city, it has you in a whole different part of the 1st level. That lets you see more of the city without increasing the need to run through it all the time.


John
 

Palantir

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I'm probably the odd man out in an MMO and in LotRO I'm the one who hated to see Middle Earth shrunk in physical size, I'd like the whole of it!
M.E. is HUGE and I for one would have no problem spending lots of "game time" just moving from one far off location to another (& quest wise if there was a good reason). There of course would need to be quests supplied as in "X" city needs meat, kill "x#" of deer & take the meat to them, or "reports of wandering Orc bands has been received in the area kill any you come across on your way to "X" location. They could be repeatable quests so you'd have something to do as you crossed the area.


When the game first came out it was great when each area had just 1 stable point which meant you had to actually walk/ride (experience the land) to the other side or the next area. You actually felt you were "in" the world moving around. But some areas now have 5 stable points within them & most are "swift travel" locations meaning I can travel from the Shire to anywhere in the far south (currently the Gap of Rohan) in a matter of seconds.

Now I don't mind having a way to get from the far north to the far south quickly (for higher lvl characters) but having stable points everywhere is just designer/player laziness. Seems the new influx of players can't spend 5 real minutes going to a different location. The inclusion of so many stable points so close together has shrunk the game to where there is little feel of the grandeur of M.E. that SoA once held. Now it seems the designers want to push you to go, go, go, & not spend any time enjoying their world. With my lower alts I use stable points & their mounts much less going thru an area, instead I use my own mounts to ride across the landscapes.

To be fair though some series of quests have you going from one far off location to another then another then back all over again. Those SHOULD have fast travel (or be redesigned) as they are nothing but time killers & make little sense at times. (Thank goodness I had a Hunter during them.)

Concerning Minas Tirith: if they do make it “playable” I’m sure there will be a stable point on each level to speed things along. It would interesting to see random quests throughout the city with some to do on each level so you could see the whole city & get feel of it. They could but probably won't as MT is a large city & probably very complex to create in detail. And of course the bottom line is getting to Mordor not hanging around and goofing off in the city.
I suspect the Open Market area of MT will be like Galtrev's, the hub of all outgoing quests up into the 1st level, countryside & instances to upper levels.
The last thing I want to see after finally getting to MT is just a picture to look at of it with no way to at least once explore / experience it- this is after all LotR's.

Edit- Hmmm I would want the whole of MT to quest in IF the game is going to last for years to come & we would have time to leisurely explore and enjoy it. But if we don’t then time spent not heading to Mordor IS time wasted.
 
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