Tobold's Blog
Thursday, June 28, 2007
 
LotRO is a grind after level 40 - Surprised?

My highest level character in Lord of the Rings Online is still only level 23. I don't play LotRO as much as I play WoW, and I have all available character slots full with alts, plus I'm often spending more time doing tradeskills than leveling. So I don't have first-hand experience of the gameplay after level 25. But more and more comments and reports are coming in that the higher-level gameplay sucks. Which, frankly, doesn't surprise me. Because I'm not really the LotRO fanboi as which some people are trying to paint me. I just liked the early part of LotRO, and wrote about it. I am completely aware that *all* MMORPGs suck in the end-game, and there was no suggestion ever that LotRO might have solved that problem.

Details on the LotRO game after level 25 can be found in this review, my thanks to the anonymous reader who sent me the link. If you read it closely, you will find that actually there is no complaint about the game between levels 25 and 39. LotRO used to be short of content in that area, but the Evendim content patch pretty much solved the problem. What the review is complaining about is that after level 40 LotRO turns into a grind. And I can totally believe that, because this is already the end-game. LotRO's level cap is currently 50.

The principal problem is that no MMORPG dares to tell players the truth, that there is a limited amount of content, and once you leveled up to the level cap and did all the quests, the game is basically over. An honest game would simply present you with a game over screen. A Japanese console RPG would present you with a game over screen and have this event unlock you restarting the game in hard mode, or with previously locked character classes. A MMORPG foresees the problem about 10 levels below the level cap, and just adds a lot of grinding to the game. You might have finished leveling, but you can still "advance" by killing 1,000 foozles, or camping rare spawns, or organizing a raid for 20+ people in which only few members will get some reward and most participants will receive absolutely nothing. By giving the players the illusion that advancement is still possible, the game keeps them playing. But sooner or later people realize that this end-game advancement is excruciatingly slow, boring, and doesn't really lead anywhere.

Is there a solution to that problem? There is, but you won't like it. The solution is to play the game slower than the developers can add new content. My wife still happily plays WoW, because she never reached the end-game. She only got to level 60 for the first time after TBC was already out, and after reaching level 68 she suddenly decided to start another alt, and is now playing a blood elf mage. Me leveling so slowly in LotRO is in the same spirit. Walls hurt less if you don't run into them full speed. :)

Does LotRO suck because of that? Not any more or any less than World of Warcraft. Currently LotRO is smaller, so if you play both games at the same speed you'd hit the wall earlier in LotRO. On the other hand it is possible that LotRO could add content faster than WoW did, Turbine has a good track record in that respect. There is also a distinct possibility that the LotRO developers plan to use the same alternative end-game grind that Warhammer Online plans to use: PvP. There has been talk of a lot more PvP zones being added, like Helm's Deep. Filling your end-game with repetitive PvP instead of repetitive PvE is an option, because PvP is less obviously repetitive. You'll conquer the same zone again and again, but at least the enemies, being controlled by other players, don't always react in exactly the same way.

I'm still hoping that one day a game comes along that has a better solution to what to offer at the end of the game.
Comments:
Walls hurt less if you don't run into them full speed. :)

I enjoyed that turn of phrase Tobold. Agreed that playing slower can improve enjoyment...I just seem to have lost the enjoyment factor:

http://sweetflag.wordpress.com/2007/06/28/the-wind-taken-from-my-mmorpg-sails/
 
it's time to add another factor into mmorpgs that used to be in muds i think.

when your guild is pretty solid (15+ members actively playing and such) and you have put money into a guild-hall and more you can unlock an epic quest or so.
this epic quest will reward you with a piece of land you can "decorate" fully including 1 dungeon.

the dungeon-creator should be pretty basic and easy, but fun enough to make somewhat interesting dungeons.

with this in mind i hope you get an ace end-game (my dungeon rocks over yours).
it also means the developers aren't stuck with no content, but can make new content by new "textures" and such and in the expansion you can create bigger/better dungeons.
 
The only thing that changes at end game is that you don't level up.
It is a myth that levelling up isn't grinding - it is, the difference being that you call it a quest.
'I need 12 Foozle ears to make my super stew. If you bring them to me I will give you the recipe'.
So you go out and grind maybe 30 Foozles to get 12 ears.
Then you do the same thing with the next quest.
Raiding/instances are similar, the only difference is that you need 4/9/24/39 other players to help you grind Foozle ears, and the drop rate/hour is a lot worse.

Why can't people get to end game in a MMORG and simply decide for themselves that the game is over?The answer is that there are always more Foozle ears to grind, and more rewards for grinding Foozle ears.
People want completeness. If you played Zelda, you wanted to collect all the hearts; if you played Mario Sunshine you wanted to collect all the Shines; if you played Pikmin, you wanted to collect all the space ship parts.

Only when you have done that do you consider the game to be truly over.
 
I'm not anonymous!

Much like Prince, I no longer require anything other than a symbol to represent myself )

= # # =

PS: your wall comment is funny and brutally honest. Eventually, mmorpgs will require and official ending or players - like myself - are just going to give up on them.

I had a free ten day trial of TBC, so I played a new blood elf mage. My intention was to stop playing the moment new content ran out, which happened at exactly 20th level.

Now the neat thing about the Ghostlands quest is that the final reward involves meeting the rulers of all three horde kingdoms and securing a new treaty which recognizes blood elves as official members.

The way I imagine it is that my mage was given a promotion and lived happily ever after. I secured my people's future and that was that.

Now, I would have re-subscribed if there had been new 20+ content but there isn't any.

But in the end, this genre will not move forward unless players have some sort of option to permanently retire their characters, on a high note.

= # # =
 
Guess it's all relative to your gaming experience of earlier grinds.

I have a 50 Champion and a 46 Minstrel and found there was hardly any grinding compared to previous titles played - especially given the endless quests in Angmar/Urugarth/Carn Dum.

I levelled my Champion pre-Evendim and the questless levels between 35 and 39 were the only real pain - and both characters have or are likely to reach the cap in far less time than it took to hit 60 in WoW.

My first 60 in WoW took around 13 days - my third took 9. By contrast, my Champ in LoTRO (pre-Evendim) took around 7 or 8 (with beta experience).

All in all, still astoundingly quicker than the grind-fest that was DaoC or the (enforced) macroing of skill gains in the early days of UO.
 
Walls hurt less if you don't run into them full speed. :)

I nearly spit coffee all over my screen, that was good! :)
 
I think MMOGs are stuck in a bit of a rut. Nearly all of them a based upon the same principles of gameplay that have been the mainstay of RPG's for donkeys years now, that being the old kill and quest to earn xp and level up - rinse repeat.

The scenery might change, the stuff bolted onto and around it may vary and evolve, but the basic core principle for all these games is the same - earn xp, level up.

Even in the end game, the design remains the same. Except now instead of levels it's equipment and rewards that make the difference (raid progression and what not).

And I'm tired of that design. I'm sure there are clever enough designers out there to make a content driven MMOG that doesn't rely on levels, allows players of all experiences and in game age to play together, and that isn't merely a shoot em up with some rpg elements (like Planetside). I'm fed up with the need to play religiously XX nights a week to keep up with my friends that I wish to play with. I'm tired of knowing that if I take a break/holiday from playing I'll fall behind.

imo it's time for designers to think out side the box and change the way we play mmogs forever.
 
Asking for non-grind MMO content is like asking for a formular to turn crap into gold. The reason? Oh it's very very simple as usual.

First let's look how many players invest hundreds and thousands of hours into this kind of game. Now let's look a you classic SPORPG (single player offline RPG). Let's take the infamous Final Fantasy series, selling around 4 million copies of the most sucsessfull PS2 releases. That's content served to 4 million players with a maximum playtime of around 80 hours max?!

Now let's take a look at WoW for example with a peak audience of 8.5 million players with playtimes that just wipe away those of FFs. Now let's consider development time with your average recent FF between 2-3 years with a staff upwards of 100 people. Those manhours crank out 80 hours of entertainment for 4 million people. Now look at the staff at your average MMO, consider the development time for content and how many hours this content entertains its audience. It's actually quite a remarkable ratio.

If you want an endless experience of FF-quality content in your average online RPG, that does not feel grindy, than try to find enough people who want to pay subscriptions high enough to pay hundreds or thousands of developers to built the content for you.

There is no ending screen for you? If it feels to grindy, stop playing. Imagine a FF wich ending would not be unlocked by just reaching it, but reaching it under certain conditions. Time limits, level limits. The ending would still be there but you wouldn't reach it so easy. I bet you would claim the game has no ending at all. Same thing. The MMO ending is there if you reach it is another question. What you ask for is cherry picking of content. "Oh that tasted the best, please only server this to me from now on." That's not gonna work with audiences this big, cause taste variies and it changes over time.

If you want to entertain this many players for such amounts of playtime you need the grind or you look out for developers who do not charge money for their work.
 
There is also a distinct possibility that the LotRO developers plan to use the same alternative end-game grind that Warhammer Online plans to use: PvP. There has been talk of a lot more PvP zones being added, like Helm's Deep.

More PvP would be a good solution for Lotro, but I hope they will start with improving The Ettenmoors and NOT add more PvP zones in the next time. That would only split the few players that play PvP at this time.
 
I guess EVE Online is the exception to this rule. EVE is much more openended, as a player you can be part of the game universe- really take (or lose) control of an area in the game. It is much like a perpetual Command and Conquer game: players grind for raw materials to build new spaceships. The material grind means you need to control a specific area to mine and so on.
 
Everyone knows subscribers chew through content faster than developers can create it.

Let's look at the options.

Here is what the current wall looks like:

raids
pvp

But there is a third option.

start a new character

That was a very popular option in EQ, because EQ has class depth and a lot of variety between classes.

But I don't see that in WoW. The only two classes in WOW that I like are mages and rogues, and I've leveled them both up.

What WoW desperately needs isn't just more 1-70 content but more class choices.

Maybe Tobold can do a write up on potential new WoW classes.

And while Blizzards adding new classes, a new short race wouldn't hurt either.

= # # =
 
I read that and thought "well duh". When I paid for the lifetime, I had no illusions that LOTRO would somehow break the mold. Of course it wouldn't be any better than WoW. WoW has tried to add more pvp with arenas, more solo and small group content, but in the end they are all grinds with diminishing returns.

Who ever thought LOTRO would be any different? Maybe it starts a few levels early. But still.

I paid for the lifetime thinking if I play 1.5 years then I will break even, not because I thought I'd play it the rest of my life.

I'd like a game with something to do. But it seems the only way to really do that is to put the game in the hands of the players: let crafted items be better than drops, let skills increase instead of being capped. Maybe even player built towns, etc. It seems like games did this in the past.
 
I'm not anonymous!

Much like Prince, I no longer require anything other than a symbol to represent myself


But note how much more obvious that is in your second post, which is "posted by = # # =", compared to the first post which is "posted by anonymous".

But now that I got it: Thank you, = # # =, for sending me the link to that post-25 LotRO review!
 
I think Mafti hit it...

It would be very difficult to incorporate it into an MMO, but user-created content would pretty much ensure a near-constant supply of new material.
 
The solution is dynamic sandboxes. Worlds that change, worlds where players have an impact and can create things. Create/destroy whole villages, dynamic spawn-locations, an on-going storyline.. Who doesn't want that?

It's technically easily possible and there's already something like Eve Online. There'll be Darkfall Online and perhaps Age of Conan is quite dynamic, not sure about that yet.
 
I currently find PvP a viable, yet limited, end game for me in WoW. PvP has many advantages:

-It's easy to set up a group and a bad group will fail fast and I'll be on to another group.
-I can play at my own pace and work toward defined goals (get X honor or arena points to buy Y gear).
-The enemies are varied and each encounter is never the same.
-Developing rivalries/a more cohesive community (for me anyway).
-I can always include any of my friends when they want to play. There is never an issue of needing a specific class/spec or more people to get going. Even if my friend isn't really incredibly awesome he'll still have a spot and we'll have fun.
-etc.

I just wish there was a more robust PvP system in WoW. PvP scenarios, more BG designs, etc. for 2 plus number of people would be great.

I enjoy some PvE but after 2 plus years of grinding the same dungeons, raids every encounter feels the same to me now. Encounters in Kara may as well be Uldaman encounters in a new skin. Maybe if there was a more random element to PvE I may find it more enjoyable. But as an endgame, I can't spend 20 plus hours a week running over the same raid instance looking for upgrades anymore. It's too taxing and ultimately not fun.
 
"I don't play LotRO as much as I play WoW,"

Wait a minute, you don't play LotRO as much as you play WoW? I thought you canceled your wow account?


For me personally, I'm enjoying a slower pace in LotRO. I always felt that if I wasn't playing WoW like a full time job I was being left behind. The content in WoW from 1-70 isn't really interesting aside from the new blood elf/draenai content. The quest flavor in wow compared to lotro is soooo bland.

I don't know about anyone else but it seemed to me that WoW 1.0 was about getting to be a part of the lore that you were curious about playing warcraft 1-3. Then TBC came along and it was about blizzard just making up lore to fit thier game model...

The best example I can think of is the original star wars (wow 1.0) vs. the awful prequels (wow-tbc). A genuine story to tell vs. formulized garbage.
 
My first 60 in WoW took around 13 days - my third took 9.

Holy Mother of Gary Gygax ... and you don't think that's a little ridiculous? Really?

It seems almost like gluttony to consume so much in one extended sitting. I know that others have max'd out quicker, but 1 to 60 in nine days must've still been relatively non-stop, yes? Were you working at the time? In school? Eating or sleeping or seeing the outside of your home?

I returned to WoW about a month ago. Started fresh, new server and all. I play for a couple of hours just about every other day, not counting weekends spent with friends and family. So I've got a couple of characters in their teens and one at 20. And you know, I'm fine with that. I'm progressing along at a decent enough pace. Does that make me too casual to count? I suppose so. Casual or not, I'm enjoying the game and I don't feel beholden to it. Nor do I feel cheated by a perceived brevity of content.
 
@ Thomas

I think he means time played, not that the character was maxed after nine days real time. The more time you stay away from a character, the less time played you'll have to level them as you gain rested XP while you are away.
 
"I don't play LotRO as much as I play WoW,"

Wait a minute, you don't play LotRO as much as you play WoW? I thought you canceled your wow account?


That should have been "played WoW". Or "used to play WoW". I'm down from 30 hours a week playing WoW to less than 10 playing LotRO. And in 10 days I'm going cold turkey and go on holidays without a computer.
 
It’s always interesting to read about people who burn through content, and then demand more saying the “end game” feels like a grind. You played the first 49 levels like a grind to reach 50 so quick, why would hitting 50 magically change that? Especially in LoTRO, which from the very start has been more about setting and the lore than about pleasing power gamers?

If you complete quests in LoTRO because you want better items, I think LoTRO is the wrong game for you. Plenty of other MMO are out there that cater to that crowd, why try to make a game into something its not?

The two part review was spot on. The first part was from the casual view; the second was from the power gamer’s view. I think it’s fairly easy to see which type of player will enjoy LoTRO, and which one has the wrong expectations.

A side note about player created content in games. Shadowbane did that with its town building pvp model, as did DAoC with RvR endgame, and I’m sure other games have tried as well. The key being, Shadowbane has one server, and WoW has 100+. If I’m a business, which model do you think I’m going to follow to make a profit? Money talks, and clearly its saying “We want easy MMO’s that hold our hand and give us shiny glow swords from endless rep grinding”.
 
I've been aware of this "wall" in LoTRO, like any MMO. And I'm trying to take it slow. But last night I played for one hour and went from bare-bones 30, to 30.5. It's barely been 2 days of /playtime and I'm about halfway through the game.

ALMOST makes me wish I could turn off rest xp.

Ultimately, I rest on the fact that at least LotRO's content, new zones, etc, will be coming every 2-4 months, and we won't have to wait 2 years for the next 10 levels of PvE.

Still, I'd love to see a game that has a somewhat dynamic world to live in. Pirates of the Burning Sea's port capture system looks promising. So does Conan.
 
Note: I loved WoW when I played it. I was an officer and the MT in a server-first raiding guild. My character had 1800+ hours played when I quit about 2 months before TBC came out. We got up to 4 horsemen in Nax. But that was back in college/first job, when I could easily spend 30-50 hours a week on WoW. Now, in a serious job, I play LoTRO maybe 5-10 hours a week, with my GF. She tires of playing after about an hour, and we log off. In WoW that would not work for us, in LoTRO, its perfect. Different games for different play styles.
 
Oh and one more thing. We all want these games to last forever. But the one thing I've come to learn. Is that sometimes, though there isn't a game-over screen, you have to be ready to realize when the game's not fun for you anymore and move on.

I played Auto Assault to level 58 and moved on, just a bit shy of the level cap. I played WoW to 60 and then 65 before finally moving on. I will likely play LotRO to 50 and move on... but with any of the above mentioned games, you can always come back and see the world again.

Why does your playtime always need to be consecutive months? If anything a gamer will fare better by taking a break when they feel the "grind" stigma set in and come back when some updates have happened.
 
I'm finding that I'm not sure what the "wall" of WoW is in this conversation.

I haven't seen lots of people saying "I've finished the raid content, game over" in reference to WoW 1.0 or TBC. Nor do I see claims of "Every non-instance, non-raid quest in the game completed, game over" either. Not a lot of "Completed my Grand Marshal / High Warlord gear (or, Won Arena season 1), game over". Or even "Got every Jewelcrafting pattern, made them all, game over."

In other words, the "wall" seems to something along the lines of burnout or frustration or 'just had enough', rather than actual lack of content (since, after all, content is added regularly, and permutations of play choices lead to a variety of huge time sinks). Or maybe it's just that realizing that Vlad's truth -- "The only thing that changes at end game is that you don't level up" -- leads to a feeling that the game *can't ever* be really finished...

I'm also a bit surprised that people claim that WoW can't be played very casually, as in only an hour here or there. I really don't see why not. I have alts that I only play with that frequency, or less, and I know people who play like that even with their 'main'. It even sounds like Tobold's wife is an example of that sort of laid-back play.
 
Doeg, that just depends on how you define “content”. I doubt anyone has finished all quests/deeds in LoTRO, but that does not mean they still have “content” at 50.

When I played WoW, right before I quit, I felt I had seen all the content, despite never seeing the final two bosses of Nax for myself, only in video. I actually did have every single axesmith pattern (all useless to me of course, but hey, it felt good for a minute to say I had them all), had almost all of my rep meters to exulted, and had seen every interesting spot in the world. But, if I was honest and not addicted to my raiding guild, I would say I had seen 99% of what WoW had to offer long, long before that. Probably around the time we first downed Rag. After that, it was just log on, farm for pots, organize raid, raid 3-5 hours, repair, log off, 5-7 days a week. The only thing that kept me going was my raiding guild, and being in a vent channel with them. The moment our guild broke apart is the moment I stopped logging on, and a week later cancelled my sub. When TBC came out, I got it, logged on, and honestly had no intent of playing it a week later. Leveling up my main felt shallow, and creating an alt was entertaining until level 20, when the new content ran out.

I still consider WoW an amazing game, but my “game over” screen had come, and I found the next thing to entertain me.
 
What a coincidence! I basically don't play WoW above lvl 40 anymore except to farm a little gold on my main for my alts. I've found joy in lvling every class to 39, and then twinking and pvping my heart out. Why bother with the end game in order to do arenas, when you can do them at earlier lvls?

Also:
"Is there a solution to that problem? There is, but you won't like it. The solution is to play the game slower than the developers can add new content. My wife still happily plays WoW, because she never reached the end-game. She only got to level 60 for the first time after TBC was already out, and after reaching level 68 she suddenly decided to start another alt, and is now playing a blood elf mage. Me leveling so slowly in LotRO is in the same spirit. Walls hurt less if you don't run into them full speed. :)"

QFT!
 
I started playing EQ in 1999 -- I played for 6 years, and my highest was 62 with a cap at 70 (and she fit when the cap was already 70). EQ2, my highest is 48, cap is 70. My first time in WoW, I hit 50 in 5 months and quit; I rerolled a dranei shaman with TBC, and she is 43 already. On the plus side, my original mostly did outdoor zones, while I'm now mostly doing instances, but the content is still pretty repetitive; I figure I have no more then 6 months longer before I quit, as I'm unlikely to take up raiding. I went with the lifetime for LotRO, and my 'main' is about 23 atm. I've never rushed to cap before, and I don't plan to start now, but not having that monthly fee egging me on makes it even easier, I admit.
 
Syncaine,

Thanks much for the clarification. I can kind of relate in a small way in that even though I hadn't put in nearly so many hours (though far more hours than any other computer game up to that point). As TBC came out I felt burned out because I was at a point of pretty much having achieved my modest goals. I was level 60 and I was progressing steadily up the PvP rank ladder (until I was cut off by the 2.0 patch) and had collected a decent set of PvP blues and epics (I didn’t have the available time to raid at the time). I had basically given up on blacksmithing, because crafting is a PvE thing -- you have to run instances or raid to get many of the patterns and mats (...still waiting for PvP-based crafting patterns/mats...) And after the 2.0 patch came out, I lost the desire even to PvP, since it was obvious to me that the gear would be replaced in the run-up to level 70.

But as I actually struck out to level to 70, I got to 62 and it didn't really seem worth the trouble. But some other things happened to renew my interest, and I playing quite happily at the moment. I guess you could say that a combination of good in-game relationships and a more casual attitude hooked me back in.
 
While I agree and disagree with many points said so far, one thing that was said I really agree with and have always believed is something Bildo said:

If anything a gamer will fare better by taking a break when they feel the "grind" stigma set in and come back when some updates have happened.

It isn't even the grind. It can just be having played too much. Everyone gets close to being burnt out sometimes. It doesn't matter who or what player you are, eventually you want a break. But for various reasons some players keep on playing. It could be reasons such as "I'm paying for it, so I want to get my money's worth" or "I have a responsibility to do this." Just take a break. If you don't, the problem won't fix itself, and then you'll eventually really burn out and quit, possibly at a bad time for others. Instead if you take a controlled break for 2 weeks or a month, you'll come back with renewed vigor.

Now, I'll admit I'm kinda falling prey to the latter example above with FFXI. I'm part of a group that is doing a set of missions (storyline quests), and I'm their leader and tank, so it would be hard to replace me. I've decided that while I don't really want to be doing this (I enjoy doing the missions, I just am more in the mood to play WoW right now) I'm going to stick it out until I finish these missions (4-5 more major fights) then I'm going to take a long, and possibly permanent break from FFXI(depends on when WAR comes out and if I like it :D). If you really feel you can't take a break right now, set a solid goal to reach for when you will take your break.
 
The last few levels, 45-50, are a grind. With the likes of getting the pages and books for the Legendary traits. But it isn't like you have to do them, you just feel compelled to. I have found the fellowship instances of Urugarth and Carn Dum to be fun, but that is all I am really doing in the PvE part of the game. With more players reaching the mid 40s the fun factor for PvMP has gone way up, and I find that I spend more time in the Ettemoores playing my monster than I do in the PvE part of the game.
 
An interesting endgame take, especially in comparison to the the post-patch review and Tobold's comments...
http://lorebook.lotro.com/wiki/End_Game
 
Thanks for the agreement, Kaziel.

I really think that we all tend to get too wrapped up in the game to realize when we're just going through the motions of playing and not actually having fun like when we started.

I took a break from LotRO already a month or so ago. I had been playing since August 2006 during the beta and found myself bored with the game. Not because it wasn't good, but because I had played it for months already.

I came back full-swing with Evendim and haven't stopped since. I play at least an hour each night lately. At most 3 on the longer sessions, so maybe my short time makes it easier on me.

But nevertheless, one thing I've learned over the 5 years I've been playing MMOs is to walk away when the feeling of "meh" sets in.

It's the best advice I can offer.
 
I agree with a lot of the analysis here. I played WoW from 1-60 and then to 70 with the expansion. Then I opted out. For me, it was "game over." I didn't need an official screen or to retire the characters, that was it. The game was a lot of fun and maybe someday I'll head back over and see what's going on. Some friends of mine asked me if I didn't think it was a "waste" to stop when I did. There is so much more I could do and see, etc. My reply was "it's a game: it's all a waste." The only redeeming value of these games is if they are fun. I had fun while I was in WoW. I wasn't interested in doing what was left, so I moved on.

I liked some of the ideas above about player content adding more longevity to games. Several people I know in Lotro level even slower than I do because they enjoy the music system so much. Opportunities for players to express their creativity will, IMHO, keep them coming back even though the game progression has ended. Music, art, housing, stuff players can build and show off will keep interest alive and make for some fun things to do.
 
I do not agree that PvP is "less than a grind" than endgame PvE. *Interesting* (see the emphasis!) Raid encounters are for me often the part of the game which is most interesting. And raiding is not about items, it is about playing instances in bigger groups, and to beat difficult encounters.

On the other hand PvP for me always felt like a "big honor grind", why I stopped playing it after trying it for some weeks.
 
Actually, one thing I enjoy about LOTRO which breaks the monotony of grinding (I'm currently level 43) is simply riding around the "safe" or relatively safe areas and just exploring and looking at the scenery. This is perhaps left daft than it sounds because when a region is actively hostile (i.e., when mobs are responding to your level/treat level), you have little time for sight-seeing. Now, I can spend half an hour or so wandering around the Lone Lands or the North Downs without worrying about hostiles, and keep discovering new design touches.
 
I don't think the developers will ever erect the wall... I mean, why should they? If they release content, we will play--won't we?

I agree with the "speed" analogy, however. I find that I get "tired" of playing the same character from 1 - XX. I usually go 1-20, 20-30, 30-40, 40-45, and 45-50, ... I go back and forth between characters, and LOTRO allows you to start your character in different areas (having new quests to complete that you might not have done the first time through--elf/dwarf, hobbit, man areas all have lower-level quests to get you through somewhere near lvl 15.

Having "finished" Guild Wars, I am going slower than those in my Kin in LOTRO, but I think I am enjoying the game a little more.

Nice post. As I often say, there is no wrong way to play a game (regardless of what some players say), and I play to have fun.
 
I didn't read all of the stuff here to be honest but the first good 1/5 lol, so I have an idea. I know people mentioned adding more character classes, and I concur, especially adding classes that can oppose each other, such as different orc classes in Lotro. They could share classes but def. should have 3-4 unique on the good and bad side. Then these chars. could be in PvP, and the possibilities there are nigh endless. I really love more classes though. I've only played LOTRO a week or so but I've rolled 4 characters around a day each, my main being a LM. Fun stuff, I would really like if they add characters that incorporate more strategy as well. Within LOTRO there are a limited number of classes I suppose, but they can think of things that don't break the bounds. I mean Runekeeper? haha, I'm sure there are a few possible chars. not yet created that would be more realistic. I also think the addition of more mounts, such as eagles for the good guys and Nazgul for the bad guys would be pretty cool, at different sizes and types, even with attack abilities, etc. who knows. I think there's lots of room to grow in content, but you're right in the end...there is an end. As with every game. I don't think MMORPGs need to tell you game over b/c they don't claim to have endless play, some assume that however because it seems to take a while sometimes, haha. There are still at least 2 expansion packs on their way most likely. All good things must end. Besides it's eating away your money! take a break or find another MMORPG, there are new ones quite often, heh.
 
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