Shamus Plays LOTRO: Part 3

By Shamus
on Feb 3, 2010
Filed under:
Column

Bilbo was so kind and gentle that he spared the life of Gollum, even while wearing The One Ring.

However, there are forces of temptation that no Hobbit can withstand.

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20205Feeling chatty? There are 45 comments.

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  1. Hawk says:

    OK, I’ve never really understood the “Go kill (x) Snuffleupagumps” quests.

    I could see a “go open the road by killing the spiders guarding it”, or “protect the sheep by killing the wolf pack”, but not “Go kill five wolves”. What if ten need killing?

    Goofy grind quests make suspension of disbelief cry.

    • LazerFX says:

      That’s a way of justifying the ‘open the road… oh, there’s possibly a dozen other players doing it too… so it’s probably been done by the time you get there… so… uh, have some free stuff’ situation that would happen if they _didn’t_ specify how many you had to kill.

      Honestly, an MMO cannot be treated like a classical RPG, unless you’re willing to split the world into millions of little chunks, one for each person or group doing a quest or quest-chain… In that case, you’d end up with something that’s not really an MMO at all.

      Of course, there are quests that make sense in an MMO sense. “Help, there are invading hordes coming – we’re doing our best to hold them back – you go and help too!” is one, and “We need continuous supplies of unobtanium to keep this city afloat – go get some from flibbertigiblets” is another.

      The problem comes when you over-use any one type of quest. In that case, you’ve got grind-itis, and it can be nasty. On the other hand, and I hesitate to say it, but the truth is in the enjoyment of play, World of Warcraft is an example of how, based upon the limited types of quests you can have, you can vary them and mix them up. Perhaps, sadly, not so much at lower levels, but definitely at higher levels and the newly designed zones. Again, that issue will be ‘rectified’ by Cataclysm, and the complete re-write of the level 1-60 zones (The ‘old world’) to suit the demands of the populace.

      Still… a certain level of suspension of disbelief is necessary to play an MMO if you’re more into the roleplaying side of things, and that can be… disturbing.

      • Jabor says:

        I honestly don’t think the instancing hurt Guild Wars *that* badly.

        It was actually quite refreshing.

        • JoshR says:

          i didn’t like the instancing, comepletely detracts from the interaction i’m looking for playing an MMO

        • Matt K says:

          I was just thinking of Guild Wars.

          I just completed a clear the road quest and that was the directions “clear the road”. I pretty much followed the map and killed the nearby enemies and at the other side the questr was completed. It worked exceptionally well and none of this kill 5 of them (if there was a number or a specific enemy to kill, it was left silent by the game).

          I actually like the way GW works since I can only put in about 30 min a day or so to play so I can either group if I have more time or get Henchmen if I don’t.

      • Peter H. Coffin says:

        Organize those “kill X snuffles” quests into bands dispatched over time just like any other “instance” thingy, just with random strangers that happen to be starting at the same time. Then scale the number of snuffles on the road to the number of players (and strength) organized to clear ’em out. Same stuff the game already does, but a little more rigorous to kind of introduce the whole concept a little earlier.

    • mewse says:

      Oddly enough, Champions Online has a few quests like this in its Canadian area.

      In particular, “Rescue the bigfoots!” and “Rescue the human test subjects!” both occur out in the open in front of a renegade military barracks, and you don’t have to be anywhere near them to get credit if somebody else rescues the people who need to be rescued. Typically, I pick up the quests, and then get credit for someone else having completed them before I’m even halfway to the quest area.

      To this day, despite having gotten credit for this on about a dozen characters, I still don’t know what one has to do to actually rescue the bigfoots.

      But I imagine that it probably involves punching bad-guy soldiers until they stop moving. Just a wild guess.

  2. Mari says:

    And again I commend you on your really painfully bad poetry. Plus, awesome hat. Really. It’s superlative. Please don’t kill me with your tiny steak knife.

  3. Rosseloh says:

    I must commend you on your writing, sir. LotRO’s my favorite game, but I still love to see it lampooned like this. I don’t think any other person could have gotten it quite right.

    And, to be fair to Atli Spider-bane, when I play a new Hobbit or Man I tend to go around the south side (and do all the side-quests) before I visit the lodge. So I haven’t usually killed the spiders yet.

  4. Eggbert says:

    I love the poem/song things. Could the next one be a haiku, or maybe a limerick? Also, one day I hope to have “a pentagram containing a flaming swastika made of horned skulls” as a “help wanted” sign.

  5. GeneralBob says:

    Haha, best one yet!

    As a Runescape player I’ve never had to put up with “kill x monsters” quests, it sounds painful.

    Convenient how the quest rewards match your clothes…

  6. yd says:

    You’ve clearly found your strength with this series. This is a great middle-ground between the long written dissections of games and Stolen Pixels. I’m enjoying this series a lot. Keep it up!

    That doesn’t mean you should stop the written series, though. I enjoy those a lot as well. They just take a little more time to get through.

  7. Maldeus says:

    Shouldn’t this be filed under Let’s Play instead of Video Games?

  8. Jericho says:

    I love this stuff, best you ever did, other then DMotR. Also, lulzy is a little hottie.

  9. Joshua says:

    Well, I used to gripe when I played LOTRO that they should change visual settings to keep accomplishments permanent for your viewing, so things might make a wee bit more sense. I understand how they can’t easily regulate the number of monsters based upon your accomplishments, but environmental factors should be easy.

    For example, I dislike in the Dwarf starting area you have a quest to destroy poisonous plants, but then they regrow after you destroy them. Why not have them just look like you actually destroyed them forever?

    But, inevitably, you’ll have someone on the forums who will say that “it’s too much trouble, and that it will cause problems for one player to see something another player doesn’t.” This makes no sense to me, because it’s not like we go around saying, “Hey, do you see that banner up there?”, or “Does that statue look broken or restored to you?”

    Sorry, bit of a tangent but I was reminded of some MMO tropes.

    • Blackbird71 says:

      With the last expansion, WoW actually does some of this, where one player who has finished a quest sees things differently then one who hasn’t. They call it “phasing,” and it’s pretty cool when it’s implemented well. So, it definitely can be done, and maybe we’ll see this sort of thing in more games in the future.

      On the original topic, I have to echo Shamus’ sentiments about the “go kill more” quests. We hates them, precious!

  10. Heron says:

    I hate to point out obvious typos, but I’m going to do it anyway:

    Page 1: “In order to protect the flock, he needs me to kill six of them.”

    Page 2: “Five messy wolf-stabbings later”

    … Were you able to turn in the quest? ;P

  11. Thom says:

    Even though some things are inevitable (why do all MMORPGs have quests like that? maybe because it’s the only way?), and some could be avoided (you could have taken the north path to the Hunter Cabin and avoided killing all the spiders before arriving there…

    I LOVE IT! :D

    Seriously Shamus, I’m enjoying every bit of it. Knowing that I’ve done all those quests a few times already and know what you’re talking about. Better even… I know what’s next! :D

    Keep up the good work.

  12. Rutskarn says:

    This whole song-a-post has got to be a thing. There’s nothing like mocking incompetent NPCs in verse.

  13. SoldierHawk says:

    Agreed. More songs and poetry please!

    Shamus, I’ve run out of ways to say “this was awesome,” but that doesn’t detract from its awesomeness in the slightest. I love this series.

    Except one thing keeps nagging at me…*why does a hobbit care about getting shoes???*

  14. Rowan says:

    Hobbits don’t wear shoes!

    • Joshua says:

      Shamus has already addressed this point on the Escapist. Essentially, preference for shoes or not wearing them depends upon the type of hobbit and where they’re from.

    • Smirker says:

      It’s more along the lines that they don’t HAVE to wear shoes. Since when is fashion about practicality? ;)

    • Pickly says:

      If they’re going to be in a fight where other types of armor would be useful, than shoes would in theory be useful as well, even if not normally worn day to day. (for an in universe explanation of how this may work.)

  15. Kris says:

    I have just recently begun playing Lotro, so this is a very fun read. I was hoping that you would write about some side quests also, there is quite an hilarious one available from jail, after the captain has been put to there. They need to get him to talk about the bandit plans so they… Well not going to spoil their ingenious plan here, but it involves quite sophisticated torturing methods with a devilish mixture of substances!

  16. TSED says:

    English major GO:

    You keep joking about your iambic pentameter, but you’ve yet to use it! You just use rhyming couplets for your end-of-act musical scenes.

    And where doth lie thy heroic couplets,
    Smirking as thy fanbase dance like puppets?
    No Litotes or kennings, apostrophe,
    No metonymy or synechdoche?
    I hate to inform you, and yet I must,
    Dear Lulzy’s a hack, deserving no trust.
    Her metric and rhythm may aurally
    Please all the knaves, but certainly not me.

    Just be glad I don’t have the time to write a satirical sonnet, Shamus! I could start a vicious lampoon!

  17. Hawk says:

    More songs and verse?

    What is he, Shamus Bombadil?

  18. The Gneech says:

    Well, as much as I love LotRO, I gotta say, making fun of nonsensical concepts in an MMO is like shooting particularly large fish in a particularly shallow barrel.

    -The Gneech

  19. RTBones says:

    Awesome in its awesomeness. Nice hat.

  20. Dev Null says:

    In order to protect the flock, he needs me to kill six of them.

    I stared at that line in disbelief for minutes, honestly believing that he’d sent you to protect the flock by killing 6 sheep

    To be honest, I think thats more commentary on the laughability of the quests to date than on your writing – in any other situation I would have immediately said “Well he couldn’t mean they said _that_.”

  21. MichaelG says:

    When does this get less idiotic than WoW? I need a new MMO to waste a year of my life on. This doesn’t look like the thing.

    • TSED says:

      Try Champions Online, EverQuest (but only if you have friends who’re willing to play with you – the playerbase is so backloaded you won’t see any one for quite some time), Guild Wars, or… Nope, those are the ones that aren’t WoW clones off the top of my head.

    • krellen says:

      City of Heroes. I think Shamus’s past posts have proven that CO isn’t “less idiotic” than – well, anything.

    • Joshua says:

      *Whoops! This was a reply to Michael G but I guess I exceeded the nested limit*

      Shamus tends to have a knack for analyzing game stories and discovering their absurdities. Although a few of the quests seem silly, most don’t strike a “This is ridiculous” tone at the time you’re doing them.

      I will admit that the early quests of trying to prove Caldor Cob is a turncoat were kind of stupid the first time through. Why does a spy have a note that provides no useful information except to his enemies? Reminds me of the complaints against D&D 4E’s first module Keep on the Shadowfell- the main villain apparently has nothing to do but write letters to his minions which detail his exact plans and how to stop him.

  22. Patrick says:

    Odd note: I may be misremembering, but I think the “take the east road” doesn’t necessarily involve going through the spiders. I think the game may have meant you were supposed to leave town and then take the east fork in the road, which does indeed lead you to the Lodge. Then they want you to clear out the tunnel so people can use it when the bandits attack.

    Or something anyway, that’s what I recall, but I haven’t played in a while and my video card is gonethe way of the dodo now anyway.

  23. Joshua says:

    I’ll also agree that I always took the main road to the lodge, not the spider-infested one. Therefore, killing spiders for Atli was a first.

    It’s also been awhile since I read the quest text, but I didn’t get the feeling that the town was holding its breath and waiting for the bandit onslaught, but rather was simply dealing with a pesky bandit problem that was starting to get worse. The bandit attack at nightfall was a surprise strike for the town, although anticipated by Jon Brackenbrook.

    I could be wrong though.

  24. Xpovos says:

    I saw the One Ring head icon last strip and I figured it had to be something other than just a “quest here” icon. Like maybe a faction. Like these people are somehow tainted by the ring and are secretly working for Sauron–perhaps without even knowing it. Or maybe it was a variable, with how flaming the ring is giving you some indication to how much they covet the power of the ring.

    But, no. I am now filled with dread for the rest of the game.

  25. Leon says:

    While we’re going on about the songs, I might as well note that they remind me of the bards from the Fable series.

  26. Thomas Steven Slater says:

    The game Drox operative by soldak games (and I’m pretty sure other games by them too) has it so that you can rack up the kills for a quest before getting the quest. This can really come in handy when you find a new race and find you’ve already completed a dozen quests for them. The same applies for rescues. Or they could do the quests themselves, they probably won’t though the sector will become increasing overrun without your help (and probably with it too).

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