A public service announcement.

If you happen to be new to Lord of the Rings Online and have just completed the dwarf starter area quests and are now in the world proper, you will be told to go and see Guard-Captain Unnarr who is just inside in Thorin’s Hall. After running around for a few hours trying to find him, you may well be wondering if you’re cut out for this MMO lark, and that you’re not sure that an online version of Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? is really what you were looking for. Luckily for you KiaSA is here to help. There was a recent revamp of starter areas in LotRO, and the developers have cheekily moved Unnarr to Frerin’s Court, the location of which you should know since it was the major quest hub in the tutorial; it’s at the bottom of the large stairway that leads to Thorin’s Hall.

For those of you who refuse to read quest text and instead followed the small unassuming quest location arrow on the mini-map which guides you in the correct direction, well done. It seems that it really does pay to ignore quest text in MMOs these days.

And for those of you, like me, who have completed the starter zones before and are now running around in circles trying to find the NPCs whose locations you once knew off by heart, my sympathies. Suffice it to say that it’s doubly interesting when the quest text lies to you as well.

Interestingly – and when I say ‘interestingly’ I mean ‘bloody frustratingly’ – the quest line The Wisdom of the Thrushes is utterly broken with regards to quest text. I raised a ticket because I couldn’t speak to Nos Grimsong when I was being told that I should. According to the GM one does indeed need to follow the automatic quest tracker (the little arrow on the mini-map) because that shows the right place to go. Once I’d visited the stable master in Frerin’s Court and Rothgar down in Nogland I was finally able to talk to ol’ Grimsong.

Notch one up for the customer service department, if nothing else.

This is curious because a) The automatic quest tracker might not necessarily be turned on for any given player, although I would hope that it is on by default for new players, and b) following that arrow across large distances can be a lesson in frustration, especially when you find yourself on the wrong side of a mountain range and have to run all the way back.

Curiously, the end stages of the quest line seemed to have the correct text, so it’s almost as though they’ve half updated the quest line and then got bored.

6 thoughts on “A public service announcement.

  1. Brian 'Psychochild' Green

    Ooh, thanks for the tip. I was going to go slumming with one of my characters to see how the Ered Luin revamp went. This is the dark side to updating existing content, a little bit of information can be overlooked and cause these types of problems. :/

  2. Melmoth

    The irony, of course, comes from the fact that these changes are generally made in order to streamline the new areas and make them more friendly and intuitive to new players.

    Moving Unnar down to the tutorial quest hub of Frerin’s Court makes sense and is a good move, but what they maybe should have considered is also changing the player’s spawn point when they leave the tutorial, such that the player arrives in Frerin’s Court rather than at the front of Thorin’s Hall. Perhaps they prefer the dramatic effect of having the player appear in front of those gargantuan gates, but I think the same effect is still achieved – and perhaps generates even more of an impression – by having the player run up that imposing stairway from Frerin’s Court such that the gates start off small in perspective, but gradually come to fill the entirety of the player’s screen.

    Add to that the fact that the player leaves the tutorial zone via Frerin’s Court, and I think it makes even more sense from a coherence and spatial awareness point of view to start the new player from the location with which they have become familiar. Although Frerin’s Court is ‘just down the stairs’ from Thorin’s Hall, it’s funny how much a player can become disorientated when you warp them to a place that they have yet to visit in the normal flow of the game.

    At the end of the day it’s just a missed bit of information in some quest text – not a big deal – I was just commenting really on my surprise at how much it threw me for a loop, especially when I have had experience of the game before. I don’t know, perhaps my previous experience worked against me in this case, either way I found it to be a fascinating insight into how difficult it must be for developers to guide players through content when a simple single line of quest text can send the player off on a tangent that causes them to lose their way; and this was over the space of a couple of modest sized locations which reside right next to one another.

  3. Tesh

    It’s also a brief look at what happens when there are a lot of moving parts in game development, and someone forgets to cross the “t” and dot the “i”. This is even tougher when the original devs have moved on to other projects or even left the company.

  4. unwize

    Let’s just say that Turbine’s QA was a bit dodgy before they sacked a bunch of testers at the end of last year.

    These things do get fixed, eventually, but remember to /bug it!

  5. Brian 'Psychochild' Green

    Nice addendum. That bit of the quest threw us when we were slumming last night (but we completed all of Ered Luin in one go last night, hooray deeds!) It seemed a bit more complicated than it did before, but it does introduce Noglond to the player faster.

    I also noticed that we didn’t get a chance to even start the Elven side of the epic quest. Not sure if that’s always been the case, or if it closes off the earlier bits of the quest if you start the “unified path”. Wanted to see what changes they had made to the elf side of things, too.

    Ah, well, at least they’re trying. ;)

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