Old Stamping Grounds.December 30, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Posted in General | Leave a comment
Tags: game design, lord of the rings online, memories
I fired up Lord of the Rings Online the other day. It needed patching, so I went and did something else whilst it patched rather than just stop it and play something else. I then took Minstrel Hawley out of the box he’s been in since before Lord of the Rings Online went all free to play, and appeared in Bree.
I promptly stood in Bree, near the West Gate (I don’t know why, but I’ve always preferred the West Gate to the South Gate in Bree. I think the view is better) and that was about it. After about five minutes, give or take a few seconds, I logged off.
How times have changed, Lord of the Rings Online. We used to be such mates, you and I, spending hours in each other’s company. Everything you did just seemed right, and in so many different ways.
Your instances were the coolest, and the most fun I’ve ever played in. The Rift of Nurz Ghashu is still my favourite raid instance, and probably will be forever. It’s because of that place that I can proudly proclaim; “I kill balrogs, me”.
In point of fact, the balrog-killing mutton-chop moustachios that Minstrel Hawley wears have now been worn proudly in other games, as a permanent reminder of the fun I had in Lord of the Rings Online.
Yet so much has changed, in the short time I’ve been away.
It’s just me, I know it’s just me. But everywhere I looked, there seemed to be an button to click on that would take me to the cash shop. From the obscenely large one on the character select screen, to the (comparatively) discrete button on the end of the UI bar, to the notification that I had been given 15 points to spend in the store when I logged in, suddenly I was feeling oppressed and harassed by Turbine’s desire to get me to use the cash shop.
Yes, I know that this is how Turbine are going to fund the game from now on, and I know that they’re not the evil sort of free to play peddlers that have given us badly and barely disguised soft pornography-based advertising, but there is a part of me that rails at being sent an email that proudly tells me I’ve been awarded 4,500 points to spend in the store.
Or in hearing that there’s now a mount that’s exclusive to the cash shop, as well as other cash shop exclusives(!).
I’m wondering how long it will be before orcs tell me about any good deals that are on at the cash shop, whilst attempting to take Minstrel Hawley’s head off. I have the fear, I really do.
Add in the fact that I have rightly been swept out with the guild broom of doom due to inactivity (which is something I approve of; I abhor guilds cluttered with inactive characters), and I’m just at a loose end.
I worry that anything I decide to do will have a price tag on it. That anything I get invited to will have an entry fee, payable through the cash store. That the game I loved playing for so many years has become some awful, pox-ridden slattern, brazenly flaunting her wares in the hopes of getting enough money out of me to pay for the next bottle of bathtub gin.
It hasn’t, I hasten to add. But I worry that all of the fabulous memories I have of playing Lord of the Rings Online will be tarnished by New And Improved Lord of the Rings Online.
It’s a foolish worry, and I hate being foolish, so I shall find one of my neglected alts, and see about getting them out of the box and playing for a while, just for fun. I’ll probably play solo for a bit, and see if it’s still fun just playing in the game world. I’ll be able to see if it’s still Middle Earth, or more Midland Bank (I apologise to anyone who won’t get that bit of wordplay. It helps to have been conscious in Britain in the early nineties to get that one).
Then I’ll see if we’re still mates, that Lord of the Rings Online and I.