If I were invited to a dinner party with my characters, I wouldn’t show up.

As a member of a Lord of the Rings Online static group, who meet but once per week to continue their epic struggle against overwhelming odds with the most evil creatures the land has to offer, as well as convene in the halls of the Last Homely House to discuss affairs of state vital to the free people of Middle Earth, such as whether the interior of our kinship house would look better painted pea-green or pumpkin-orange, I am fully aware of how far we are behind the current story arc of the game. We have yet to venture into Moria proper, and are on number ten out of some huge number, at least five thousand I’m sure, of the book based content in volume one.

Even with the Mirkwood expansion soon to be released I, for one, am still in no hurry to get into the Moria content of volume two; I’m looking forward to it undoubtedly, but it is evident that there is still an abundance of things for us to see and do in volume one of the game.

However, one thought that germinated in my brain and sent its tender roots tickling their way through the field of my mind was thus: with the inevitable progression of the story and with its forgone conclusion, are we going to be late to the party? Are we going to be like the embarrassingly late couple who turn up and leap through the door shouting “Surprise!” just as everyone else is heading home? I picture a fellowship of heroes – two elves, two dwarves, a man and a hobbit – huffing and puffing their way across the fields of the Pelennor, clattering up the streets of Gondor under the gaze of astonished and puzzled eyes, shouting “Sorry!” *huff* “Sorry we’re late!” *puff* “Have we missed much of the battle?”, tumbling over each other into the hall of the king shouting “Surprise!”; “We’ll save you Mr Frodo!”; “Down with this Sauron thing!” and “Careful now!”, only to be faced with Eldarion son of Aragorn, Second High King of the Reunited Kingdom of Gondor and Arnor, who can only ponder the purpose of these curiously mannered folk are who cluttering up his throne room, and who then has to put a comforting arm around their collective shoulders and quietly explain that there has been peace in the land for the last hundred years.

A world story is a wonderful thing in an MMO, unless you’re late to the party.

8 thoughts on “If I were invited to a dinner party with my characters, I wouldn’t show up.

  1. unwize

    Hehe, rest assured, even your rate of progress is quicker than the glacial pace at which actual content is added.

    You’ll probably be just about caught up by this time next year ;)

  2. mbp

    Rest assured that Turbine are very aware of this dilemma of how to they progress an epic storyline for the whole world when different players are stuck at different stages of the story. Their preferred solution is to lock most of the epic storyline content into instances. That way each player can get to experience the story unfolding at their own pace.

    Have you noticed how Gandal / Aragorn and such are always in instanced rooms? This wasn’t always the case – when the game was released first you could bump into Gandalf in a number of places for example. Now he is always in an instanced room and you will only ever meet him at the correct place in the storyline for you.

    It seems that for most of the story we will be always be “just behind” the fellowship. You arrive at a spot to be told that Frodo et al have just passed through. However for fans of Tolkien there are loads of little reminders of his books. If you only do group content you may miss some of them. There is a fun solo instance in Tal Bruinen for example where you get to chase Golum.

    This is turning into a very long comment but in answer to you question about the length of book 1 there are 15 chapters in total. The last few chapters contain some really terrific challenging group content interspersed with mind-numbingly tedious fed-ex quests. I have no idea why Turbine is so fond of tedious fed-ex quests but there you have it.

  3. Melmoth Post author

    @unwize: I’m not so sure, their content updates are slow I grant you, but you haven’t seen us trying to decide on a wall paint colour. We once made an Ent fall asleep out of boredom.

    @mpb: Interesting stuff! My main thought was how Turbine would manage to instance the destruction of the ring and the freeing of the people of Middle Earth, it sort of ties back to my post about whether they would scourge the Shire, and how. I’m certainly looking forward to all the content, and no mistake, but I’m definitely not in any rush, and neither is Turbine it seems, which is nice for me.

    I imagine that in ten years time this might become an issue, but until then I’m happy to just imagine the silly situations that might occur.

  4. Tdubs036

    This post made me laugh, certainly by the time my Captain is leveled up the Elves will have been to to the Grey Havens and then come back from their extra long holiday.

    MBP seems to hit the nail on the head, most of the main storyline is instances so it is at peoples own pace. I can’t wait to see how Helms Deep or Gondor under siege turns out, that probably would be Gondor as a hub and an epic set of instances!

  5. Melmoth Post author

    @Stabs: I would like to say yes, but my fast catching-up Warden alt would tell you all that I’m a liar. Stupid snitching Warden.

    @Tdubs036: I really hope Turbine can recreate Helm’s Deep, it needs to be epic in scope. One idea might be to have the players fight small instanced pockets of enemies and surround them by a ‘video wall’ which plays out a pre-generated film of the rest of the battle, so you feel like you’re in the middle of a field of thousands of enemies, but actually you’re just fighting in a small instance.

  6. mbp

    Oh dear I have just had an awful thought. I hope Turbine don’t have us arriving just after the battle:

    “Phew we have just survived an onslaught of thousands of orcs but now that you are here we finally might be able to get rid of that cave claw infestation in the basement”

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