Tobold's Blog
Friday, November 21, 2008
Mines of Moria

Somebody was complaining that I didn't cover the new Lord of the Rings Online expansion Mines of Moria on this blog. Well, even if I would buy it, I couldn't possibly play it, as I don't have any LotRO character at the level cap. Besides the two new classes, the majority of the content of the expansion is for high-level characters. So, I don't have the time to play this, I don't have the level to play this, and I don't know anyone who plays this. I haven't even read anything about Mines of Moria on any of the MMORPG blogs I follow. How am I supposed to cover this?

It is as if this expansion didn't exist. Maybe they shouldn't have released that expansion in the same week as Wrath of the Lich King.
Lol, sometimes you just can't win!
I must admit I found myself wondering why they released their expansion concurrently with WotLK. Blizzard announced first, as I recall, so Turbine could have made another choice.

Then again, Turbine is not going after World of Warcraft's core audience, to put it bluntly. Those of us who like LoTRO like it because, in many ways, it is not WoW. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate WoW, but it's an entirely different playing experience.

I do have a character there and I bought the digital download, but I don't have time to play it. Perhaps in January!
I've got a hunter at the level cap and a lifetime subscription which I so regret to have bought. But if I at some point need some change from WOTLK and WAR I might buy MoM just to see it. I've always been fascinated with Moria since I read the books. :)
LotRO not the only game with an expansion that was released in proximity to Wrath. EverQuest 2 also got an expansion, and so did EvE. Even Warhammer had it's Heavy Metal event, introducing two of the classes previously cut from the game.
I've eagerly awaited MoM (especially after the somewhat disappointing AoC and WAR) and now i'm so happy to play it. The expansion has a very good quality, the patching went smooth, i've yet to discover major bugs. For me it went as flawless as the launch of LotRo and as every patch thereafter.

The expanded crafting system is neat, you can join a crafting guild where you can craft special tokens for your crafting guild to build up you influence in order to get new recipes. The Legendary Weapon System. The 2 new classes, Warden and Runekeeper are imo very fun to play,
i'm levelling both at the same time. I've not even get near Moria with my Guardian (main), because there are so may other things to do. Eg. Monsterplay, questing with my Ork Reaver through the Ettermoors and getting all the teleport scrolls as long as the Freeps are under Lvl 60.

I always have the feeling LotRO is somewhat underestimatet due to the similar gameplay to WOW, but imo it has attractet a different, more lore-driver an somewhat adult and relaxed playerbase.
Good for a casual, bad for a hardcore playstyle. And it seems that a lot of people have a LTA.
I think due to this facts Turbine can afford to launch MoM so close to WotLK and will not suffer overall negative effects. To some degree they are not directly competing with Blizz any more.

Due to the LTA and my casually playstyle i can see myself playing this game for the next couple of years. I hope i have time to play some WotLK also...maybe next year .
At first I was amazed when I realised that MoM was being released a few days after WoTLK. It effectively scuppered any chance Turbine had of wooing further players from WoW. On the other hand I think the previous anonymous commenter has it right. Turbine is no longer going after the World of Warcraft audience. Despite the initial similarity of the games Lotro seems to have found a nice among a different type of player, perhaps a slightly older player base, certainly less competitive.

As someone who returned to Lotro after a six month absence I will say this - It is a very easy game to return to. Turbines constant feed of new content means you will find new stuff to do no matter what your level. Also the more friendly casual nature of the game and the player base means that being left behind is not such a big deal. I have noticed that almost all the players in my kinship who left Lotro for AOC or WAR have now returned.
Why in the world would a commenter complain about not seeing something he/she prefers to see in a blog. This *is* Tobold's MMORPG Blog, eh?

If someone felt that strongly about a topic, I believe writing about it on their own blog would be a better idea.
Yes i share the same problem.
Ok, i have a Level 50 Char, but, there is EQ2 with a new addon, i would like to bring my WAR Char to LvL 40 and Spellborn will be released next weeks, and im on my way to Level 80 in WotLK, not to forget to bring a DK to the max level also.
I would like to play it, but there is no time.
I dont care if Turbine cares about WotLk or not, but in my eyes it was not the smartest Idea to release it November2008
Yep, Tobold should of course cover games he's actually playing :)

I agree with the point that has been made with regards to LotRO's player base. For the most part, people who like LotRO simply don't like WoW. Turbine can release Moria so close to WotLK because they are confident that there sizeable current player base simply won't be playing WotLK. We are seeing jam packed servers at the moment, as busy as I've ever seen them.

And the expansion is really awesome! Legendary weapons are the best mini game I've seen in an MMO, and Moria itself is a triumph of PvE content design. As good as WotLK PvE invariably is, you will not find anything like Moria in WoW.

Also, the combat changes have given the game a must needed boost in challenge, with deep and satisfying PvE to rival any MMO. They've also introduced loads of very cool solo and 3 man instances, as well as over half a dozen 6 mans and a new raid, and with more promised in the next few months.

Good times to be a LotRO player!
Which races can be the new Rune master class?
I really liked LotRO. IMHO it was more polished then either AoC or WAR. AoC and WAR were both disappointments due the inflated hype surrounding both games. LotRO had little to no hype, therefore it exceeded my expectations. My character was only level 20 or so when I stopped playing but if the WoW expansion wasn't released I could be tempted to roll a new class in LotRO.
Nice review can be found here:
This post shows clearly how WoW'centric you are - rightly or wrongly.

I really don't think Lotro has a thing to worry about in the short term and is imho clearly better than WoW.
I don't think Lotro has anything to worry about either. But how do you define "clearly better than WoW"? Of course popular success isn't the same as quality, but the one big advantage of looking at things like subscription numbers or market share is that they are measurable. To say why Lotro would be "clearly better", you have to resort to totally subjective criteria of quality. And you will always have somebody asking why, if Lotro is clearly better, there aren't more people playing it. If Lotro is better, then it is obviously unclearly so, because if it was clear to people that there was a better game elsewhere, they would just move.
I think there were pros and cons to launcing MoM at the same time as WotLK. The biggest pro is that they delivered some new content for their players at a time when they could have been enticed to play WotLK (not sure if this is a huge demographic or not). The biggest con is that they barely registered a blip with the media, who are all in a tizzy about WoW right now.
To be honest, I didn't realize how close the Moria and Lich King releases were until the week they both came out. I agree with several other commenters here that Turbine was not trying to pull WoW players in. I think it's more likely that they were trying to keep LoTRO players from picking up Lich King. Anecdotally, I can say it worked with me. I was tempted to pick up Lich King over the weekend and resub, but I knew that Moria was coming on Tuesday and was able to resist.

I really feel that there is little difference between WAR, WoW, and LoTRO at a basic game mechanic level. The primary differentiators between these games is the community surrounding them. Yes, there are some differences in focus and features, but those differences are not the reason why someone plays one and not another.
One can only cover the games one plays. Even though you touch on various games, your primary game seems to be WoW. People should recognize that and look to other blogs for reaction to the Mines of Moria or other games.
"It is as if this expansion didn't exist."

That's a little myopic. Just because you focus on WoW-centric sources of information doesn't mean there hasn't been plenty of Moria coverage all over the internet (there has). Sometimes you really amaze me with statements like this Tobold, and not in a good way.

That said, it's your blog and if you don't feel like talking about Moria, why should you? It's a personal blog, not a news agency. You don't have a mandate to provide equal coverage to all contenders.
Session play is one of the hidden gems of Lotro that I haven't heard other games use much so far? It allows you to play a completely different character for a while, step into somebody else's shoes so to speak. Today I did an instance where I was playing one of the dwarves who long ago woke up the Balrog deep down the mines. Rather than reading a wall of text about how it all happened, you get to play through it. So far loving Moria very much!
I've been vaguely nosing around for LOTRO (and, yes, even EQ2) news myself, and I just haven't been able to find the appropriate corners of the blogosphere that actually plays either game. My best guess is that Sony and Turbine both decided to punt on trying to get more bored WoW players (who will probably leave again with the next WoW content patch anyway) and have instead decided to focus on retaining the loyal folks they have by getting their expansions out before the holidays.
plenty of Moria coverage all over the internet

I've seen a few short posts on Massively, and zero posts on the various general MMORPG blogs I'm reading. I'm sure there are posts about Mines of Moria on the LotRO blogs, but those aren't on my reading list. I'm not saying Moria doesn't exist, I'm saying it doesn't rate very high on the radar of the average MMORPG gamer. Note the "as if".
With regards to "why turbine released Moria so close to WoTLK", the close proximity of the two dates is the only thing that kept me from ditching lotro
If the average MMORPG gamer is a WoW player, then yes Tobold, you're absolutely right. LotRO doesn't rate highly on the rader of most WoW players, especially a week after a major WoW expansion launches.

A few important points to remember about LotRO, and why it breaks some of the standard MMO rules:

- A significant proportion of the current playerbase have lifetime subscriptions (a majority perhaps?). Those players have already decided they like the game enough to make a significant investment in it. Also, the only way Turbine can get more money from those players is to release regular paid expansions. Expect Turbine to actually stick to their 'one expansion a year' promise, regardless of what other MMO releases they happen to clash with.

- Turbine are a private company. While I'm sure they would have liked LotRO to be successful in something approaching the same magnitude as WoW, nothing I've seen from them suggests that they ever really expected it to happen. They have crafted a quality product with a firm eye on the long term, and they only have to make enough money to pay the bills. No shareholders breathing down their necks trying to squeeze every last penny out of the game. No charges for character customisation in LotRO!

- Look at the amount of free content that has been released by Turbine in the last 18 months, and compare it to the free WoW content in the same period. Turbine are a small company, and do alot with very little. Blizzard are a big company, and do very little with alot.

- It is the only thing that has came close to WoW in terms of polish in the last few years. WAR isn't bad, but it's certainly pretty rough around the edges. AoC... well need I say more. Mines of Moria launched smoothly and on time with only the few very minor bugs that come with every MMO update. The standard UI is better than WoW's, IMO, albeit it is non-modable, for those that think that is actually a bad thing!

- Turbine's relationship with their fans is exemplary, and the community is unlike any other. A quick browse through the Turbine LotRO forums and its dev tracker (or the Codemasters forums for EU players) will give you an idea of what I'm talking about. Perhaps the lack of LotRO blogs is simply due to the fact that the official forums are informative, and are actually quite a pleasant place to be. The 'sane' community for this particular MMO doesn't have to relocate elsewhere! The burning issues of the day are generally discussed by those inclined in a reasonably constructive manner on the forums, and everyone else just gets on with enjoying the game.

Don't get me wrong, LotRO isn't perfect, and it certainly isn't for everyone. However, it is a serous alternative to WoW, and I guarantee you that it will still be going strong in 2 or 3 years time. Rohan, Gondor, Mordor, Mirkwood, The Lonely Mountain... Lot's of Middle-Earth left to fill in to keep the devoted playerbase happy!
"My best guess is that Sony and Turbine both decided to punt on trying to get more bored WoW players (who will probably leave again with the next WoW content patch anyway) and have instead decided to focus on retaining the loyal folks they have by getting their expansions out before the holidays."


This is pretty much what I think as well: they have thrown in the towel on really competing with WoW and are more interested in retaining their own playerbases. LOTRO is doing quite well, the servers are pretty active now with the expac, I have seen. No way near as overcrowded as LK, but it's a different playerbase -- more mature, more lore-focused, much more casual, less competitive and rat-race than WoW is.
@ Tobold: But how do you define "clearly better than WoW"?

I define with the use of 'IMHO'. Meaning 'In My Honest Opinion'. I don't need to define it any more.
I just wanted to state for the record, that I think it's pretty nice for Tobold to show some love for a game that he owns but isn't playing any more. Tabula Rasa just announced it's folding up shop. I hope the same doesn't happen to the other "failed" MMO's (i.e. games that aren't WoW - meant tongue in cheek)
"Nice" maybe, but the 'issue' is more the fact there wasn't a single mention of MoM's release here until prompted by a reader. Obviousy Tobold can write about what he wants, and I enjoy the posts and discussions, but given that it was the game's first big expansion, it surely merited a mention on an "mmorpg blog", if nothing more?

And as for the earlier discussion, I see no problem with Turbine releasing now. People with high-end toons in WoW are never going to jump ship for Lotro and, indeed, vice-versa. Perhaps 1 in 10,000...

And Mines of Moria itself? - very enjoyable and highly recommended to any old Lotro players who've moved on to newer games.
mines of moria have some of the best scenes in the game, i really like to orc battles and hidden treasure, by the way can you make a post of my mmorpg review website ?
I don’t like everything about the LotRO expansion but architecturally Moria is amazing. Never seen that complicated of an environment done by any other game. Detailed dwarvin stone ruins 5 or more layers deep.

As others have mentioned, Turbine had to release at this time. Waiting would have been a mistake. You can’t have stale product when the competition has something new. The Christmas market is very important.

The evidence that I see shows Turbine is doing well retaining customers even with the WoW expansion. Short loggin queues during the weekend we just completed. Besides the welcome back free play weekend two weeks ago it had been over year since seen a queue. Lots of people returning to play in my guild. anyone even discussing that game anymore? Boring mess, bad UI, Ugly models, 30fps animations in a 60fps world?

LOTRO is what they call a "wanna be' in the biz!

Moria is only good for those who play LOTRO already.

Still playing AoC then I guess?

That is a NO, yet isn't it funny people are STILL discussing it?

May not always be good news for AoC, but the silence of Moria is beyond deafening..

Sad really.

LotRO has had no server closures/mergers since launch, and all servers are currently enjoying very high populations. Heck, one of the areas actually crashed on my server last night due to heavy load, and that has never happened before.

The fact of the matter is, you are simply not in touch with reality when it comes to LotRO. It's a solid, very playable, fully featured MMO, and it has been a huge success for Turbine. I guarantee you that Turbine will announce a new expansion in the next 6 months (probably Rohan), the LotRO community will rejoice, and the playerbase will continue to grow.

The only thing that seems sad to me is that you continue to have a huge chip on your shoulder about a game that you obviously haven't played for well over a year. In 12 months time I'll certainly be willing to reassess AoC ;)
LOTRO is a much more plot driven type of game, with a lot more narrative. This will appeal to a certain type of player and that player will be loyal.

There are also some interesting tools in the game that make it very attractive to role players (clothing, music). While I am not a roleplayer, having those folks around with their events, diverse appearances, and town square performances does enhance the world for me.

When I log into some games, I see an empty sterile world. Definitely not the case with LOTRO!

BTW, yes, there are some WoW players who cannot help but to disrespect LOTRO... but there are a surprising number who go out of their way to respect LOTRO without necessarily liking it better, following its development, or even wanting to play it. I see Tobold as in the later camp. Thanks for the thread!
you are simply not in touch with reality when it comes to LotRO

Sure I am.
Bad character models, Bad UI that does not scale to larger monitors properly, 30fps animations for models, load hitching, lots of kill 10 x quests just like every other MMO.

I fail to find anything special in LOTRO, except the landscapes, which I have seen better in Vanguard for example.
It may be stable, and it may be fully featured (translation: features available in all other MMO's....just with less classes), but this does not make it "awesome".
It is mediocre, and will always be that way. No one talks about this game like the other MMO's, and it has it's niche following.
Good for Turbine.

Does not make it a "Good" game.

Bad character models? 30fps animations? You didn't play the same game that I've been playing, obviously. When exactly was the last time you played LotRO, and how old was the graphics card? Any mid-range graphics card bought in the last 2 years will run it beautifully with 60+ fps, including the animations, the smoothness of which is an easily modifiable setting in the graphical options.

Load hitching and kill quests you'll find in every MMORPG. That's like singling out Fords as being bad cars above and beyond other cars because they have engines.

LotRO now has 9 very distinct classes, and it looks likely that there'll be new ones with each yearly expansion. How much redundancy in class roles do you need?

It will always be mediocre? You're basically saying that no matter how much Turbine improve the game you would not be willing to reappraise? Your position would be more credible if it wasn't so entrenched.

Of course it has a niche following, but if it's profitable for Turbine and has busy servers for the players, what does it matter? And you seriously wouldn't argue that AoC is anything other than a niche game now, would you? WAR also looks to be heading into niche territory. Is there a western MMORPG that isn't niche in comparison to WoW?

I will however concede that the UI scaling does need some work :)
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