Shamus Plays: LOTRO, Part 22

By Shamus
on Jun 16, 2010
Filed under:
Column

Even if you’re not following the LOTRO series, you might want to take a gander at page one of this week’s installment for my comments on Lord of the Rings Online going free-to-play this fall. And if you do follow this series, then I guess you were going to read page one anyway. But I’ll give you your own special link so you don’t have to share one with all the Lulzy haters.

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201737 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.

From the Archives:

  1. Daimbert says:

    Hmmmm. You know, this is the first MMORPG that I had any interest in that went free-to-play, which might help with my “Can’t play an MMORPG because I don’t play enough to pay my monthly subscription”. Well, if my system wasn’t so aged that it probably can’t handle walking around anywhere with people without stuttering like crazy.

    From the article quoted, though, it seems that Turbine thinks that it might increase their revenues a lot, and if it does expect more games to go that way. It’ll actually be interesting to see if the dedicated subscriber model works better than the more random “pay/upgrade when Isee shinies I like and can’t get” model. With the former, a company can keep adding content because they know how much money they have coming in, but with the latter they might make more overall.

  2. TehShrike says:

    I clicked on both links. NYAH

  3. Josh R says:

    I think it’s kind of a slap in the face to anyone who bought a lifetime subscription…
    I won’t bother trying it, as I’ve got too many other games to play as it is, but as someone who couldn’t make it half way through a tolkien book I imagine it isn’t for me.

  4. Joshua Macy says:

    If I were them, I’d give the lifetime subscribers access to all the new shinies free. That is you’d have your choice of playing free and buying extras a la carte, or committing to the lump-sum for lifetime access to whatever extras they add.

    • Daimbert says:

      I think that is how it works. From the article quoted, it sounded like you could still have a subscription, and you’d think that if you subscribe you get everything included.

      • Zukhramm says:

        That’s how DDO works, subscribers get everything, others pay specifically for what they want.

        • NotYetMeasured says:

          The free-to-play closed beta starts today.

          In LOTRO, lifetime subscribers and those that continue to pay their subscriptions will get a certain amount of “LOTRO points” every month which are the same as those for which the free players would have to micro-transact.

          My take matches Shamus’s. I can’t say whether the numbers will work out for greater revenue, but to me it’s taking a risk with the game’s brand. I read on the LOTRO forum that the new LOTRO Exec. Prod. came over from DDO, so it may be a case of just doing what you know (or what got you where you are).

          As a casual lifer, I might actually come out ahead. They say you will be able to use the LOTRO points to buy game expansions, which have been the only thing I’ve had to spend $$$ on since launch. I certainly won’t be paying for anything now that they’ve done this, so I hope they are right about being able to make more money on a new segment of players.

  5. Tizzy says:

    Shamus: you forgot to mention the countless rotting corpses as one of the health hazards associated with living in the bandit caves. Seriously, what’s the deal with that? Who are these ex-people anyway? I thought bandits were supposed to stockpile riches, not bones!

  6. silver Harloe says:

    “Yes! He’s an incredibly important prisoner. Since you’re new, I’ll grant you access to his cell immediately.”

    “I can just go see him?” I ask in surprise. “You don’t have any duties for me, the new recruit?”

    Yah, wouldn’t want to get the new recruit to prove her devotion to lawlessness and/or make sure you have some kind of hold over her before letting her access anything important. That would be crazy talk.

    • Friend of Dragons says:

      Yeah. I was thinking maybe they could accomplish both objectives at once by telling you to do something like “Go find Amdir and cut his throat”…

  7. Friend of Dragons says:

    Well, to me the free-to-play part of DDO was really much more like an expanded demo, and to play most of the game you still had to either buy a subscription or buy it piecemeal. So, if you’re hoping for anything more than a severely limited playing experience where you can’t turn around without seeing five things you need to pay for, I wouldn’t really recommend getting your hopes up.
    (I was once a dedicated LOTRO-er, and I’ve always intended to go back once some time/money issues were resolved, so this could be my opportunity, but I’m not expecting to get much out of it until I go back to paying)

    • Dev Null says:

      Personally, I’m a serial character-starter. I love playing through low-level stuff with a new character, but tend to get bored before I max em out. DDO’s model is perfect for folks like me – I payed for a couple of months to get some points and see which adventure packs I liked most, quit the subscription and bought the packs with the points, and now I can make endless new characters for free. I’m sure I’ll get bored of it eventually; hopefully LotRO will have the same model when it goes free, and I can just swap games at that point.

      • Heron says:

        In LotRO you’ll get everything up to level 50 for free. That’s… a lot of content. It’s further than I got on any of my half-dozen characters.

        • Rosseloh says:

          Unfortunately it’s not true. You get everything* up to level 25 or thereabouts, for free.
          *Everything meaning, everything from Shadows of Angmar, the first released game (not including expansions).

          In contrast, you get “everything”** up to level 50 as a free player.
          **Here, “everything” means: the world from Shadows of Angmar. Quests will be locked behind purchases. So, you could get to level 50 with no money spent, but I sure hope you like grinding kills.

          As a subscriber, I’m pretty well off here. I can pay what I’ve always paid, get all the content I’ve always had access to, and I get 500 Turbine Points a month.
          I do wish I had bought a lifetime back when they were still available, and $200, however. Now they’re not selling them anymore, so I’m basically locked into a subscription, or playing “free” (which means I’d lose my subscribed content)

  8. Ellindsey says:

    I don’t know if it’s just something odd with my browser, but the screen is showing up with a black background that makes all the text between the images completely unreadable.

    • sleepyfoo says:

      I had the same problem, until I turned off my adblocker for that site. Annoying that is.

      • Athan says:

        Bah, I feared that might be the ‘solution’. I’m,having the same problem.

        To be honest this is something likely to drive me away from the whole site, even if that means no Shamus, no LRR, no ENN, no Unskippable.

        Why, no, when I did have ads showing many years back I never, ever, and I mean EVER, clicked on any. So ‘you’ are not losing any revenue by my choosing to block them.

        Grrrrr.

        • MichaelG says:

          I use NoScript for Firefox. Kills most ads and lets you selectively, temporarily turn things on again for the sites that get difficult.

          • Athan says:

            I also use that. In this case Javascript isn’t the problem. It is actually blocking the ads site.

            I emailed the Escapist editor and got this reply (which I don’t think he’ll mind me sharing):

            —-8<——-8<——-8<——-8<——-8<——-8<——-8<——-8<—
            We have a special "apocalypse" site skin on the site (which I do think looks pretty cool: ) to celebrate our weekly "apocalypse" issue.

            It's not intentional, but the server host for our special skins is the same
            as the server hope for our ad skins, from what I understand (I'm not IT, the specifics are lost on me). Ergo, adblockers block the special skin, so you just see the black.

            But frankly, given that we get paid primarily on impressions and not clicks, adblockers just consume our bandwidth while enjoying our free content, and we don't get anything from them in return. So, sorry, but it's just an unfortunate coincidence.

            We appreciate people who don't use Adblocker – or add us to the exception list – because that means we actually get paid. And they get to see cool custom site skins :)
            —-8<——-8<——-8<——-8<——-8<——-8<——-8<——-8<—

            I think I will actually leave Escapist Magazine whitelisted in AdBlock as a result, so long as nothing that does make it through annoys.

  9. Meredith says:

    I might have to try this game when it goes free-to-play, just to see what it’s like. Then again, I’ve been meaning to try DDO for months now and haven’t actually done it, so perhaps not.

    This whole getting into the bandit camp quest line seems needlessly complicated. I love their awesome plan of ‘go rescue him and try to get back out’. Yeah, that’d be the rescue part, thanks.

  10. Hal says:

    I was really hoping for a recap of THE LOUD SONG. Although I’m not sure I understood the bandits’ disapproval of references to Chetwood.

  11. Jep jep says:

    I love it how nobody’s even little bit suspicious of a hobbit trying to join an organization which before that point has only ever had human members in it. Especially when you’re in a world where a “hobbit bandit” is about as common sight as a mammoth in ours.

    About the free play:

    Being a lifetimer, my gut-reaction was pretty much mix of mild disdain and worry when I first heard about it, until I saw this spreadsheet.

    So as it stands, they’re at least not deliberately trying to piss anyone off, considering that a “VIP” is pretty much the same thing as a regular paying customer at the moment. Only notable change is the “Wardrobe” system, which is a nice change. They’re also planning to compensate any Founder, Lifetimer and old paying accounts with “Loyalty Rewards” which is basically some bonus points for the store before the official release. Can’t say I’m too thrilled, since I paid about 200€ for my own subscription back last fall (And now there’s even an offer going for “75£”, which is considerably less).. but I’m glad they’re at least giving something out. We’ll see if it’s worth it.

    The community question is valid though. There will be griefers and “tourists”, there’s no doubt about that. Luckily, if you’re into end-game, you won’t be seeing them much beyond Eriador. I’d still like to think that this is for the better of the game in the long run. It will definetly boost the potential lifespan of the game anyway if they keep it going with this.

  12. Jarenth says:

    I don’t know why you’re so upset about the locals not doing anything about the bandit infestation, Shamus. It seems pretty clear to me that they can’t.

    After all, they can’t even get into the bandit cave. They don’t have the quest.

  13. LachlanL says:

    Can I get a compare from anyone who has played both LOTRO and DDO? I’ve never played a MMORPG, mainly because they’re a huge time sink and I tend to associate most of these sorts of games with people whose minds have not progressed beyond pubescence. I hear good things about the “class” of people who play LOTRO and I was wondering if a similar culture of people play DDO.

    Might be time to dip my toe.

    • Padyndas says:

      I don’t play DDO but from what I hear it also has a pretty good community. I do play LOTRO and it is very true that the community is for the most part, top notch. It is mostly adults that play it. Voice chat is used alot in group quests and I rarely hear anyone that sounds like they are a child. As in, maybe once, over the nearly a year I have been playing. I have had complete strangers craft me a whole set of armor and make weapons for me free of charge without me even asking them. My only other comparison was when I played WOW for a few months just before this and it is completely opposite as to the community. Voice chat in WOW wasn’t as prevalent and I did not group as much as I do in LOTRO, but many of the people seemed extremely immature and very annoying. This is the main reason why I stopped playing WOW. I love LOTRO and while the game in some ways is not as polished as WOW (though I do think the graphics are better overall), it is the community of LOTRO that really makes it stand out. From what I understand, going F2P has not ruined the DDO community and I hope the same will be able to be said for LOTRO.

  14. TSED says:

    You know, I’ve recently gotten back into Champions Online.

    I am having an absolute blast with it. Absolute blast.

    All the stuff they’ve added has certainly made a difference, melee is now awesome, and all defensive passives (except for PFF) are awesome. And Force is about to get overhauled, so maybe PFF will finally be awesome too.

  15. Joshua says:

    And may I say for the LOTRO veterans here, will your next installment be mentioning Sara Oakheart? If you’ve only gotten to level 30 or so, she won’t mean much to you.

    For those of us who got further in the game, we have to resist the urge to smack her* when meeting her for the first time with our alts.

    *sometimes we give in to the urge.

    • Padyndas says:

      /slap

      “You slap Sara Oakheart on the Cheek”

      I do it every time I see her now.

      Also, I look forward to some comment about how SLOW Sara Oakheart is in this cave. That is the worst part of this whole quest line. You think going to Chetwood 6 times is awful, try following Sara Oakheart at literally a snails pace as you “rescue” her. Atleast it allows for multiple slaps.

      • NotYetMeasured says:

        Sara’s slow pace is a fix. She (like many other escorts) used to move at about 130% the speed it would take an average player to clear each encounter. It’s hard to say which is worse…

  16. Kris says:

    I don’t know very much about Lotro-s playerbase and how much it is struggling, but I do wonder if Lifetime subscriptions would have something to do with games monetary problems. If there are any, that is. As much as I understand then Lifetime subscriber pays once about the same amount as he would pay for a year and all the other years after that he doesn’t pay a thing? Oh well, not that important but just makes me wonder.

    But an awesome chapter in Lulzy’s adventures as always!

    • NotYetMeasured says:

      For LOTRO I believe Lifetime at launch was $200, and monthlies are now $10, so taking time-value out of it, it’s 20 months’ worth. Still a good deal in my opinion.

      I think it’s a good move for the developer as it gives them big chunks of cash to pay a large team for the crucial first year of refining the game and adding content. The problem for the lifetime consumer is that they have very little leverage once they’ve made the purchase. But Turbine has done right by us lifetimers so far, and I hope that they will continue to do so after launch of F2P.

  17. Daf says:

    Huh, that’s weird. I tried checking SP:L at home (Escapist is now blocked at work thanks to our shiny new firewall) and got confused, but I think I was two weeks behind… None of these comments or quotes remind me of anything I remember reading yesterday. :s

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