Thursday, May 10, 2007

Playing the Game

With my switch to the Lord of the Rings Online, I’ve made a few decisions about the way I’m playing the game. Granted, there are different play styles for different folks so I’m not claiming that there’s a right way or a wrong way to play a game. You plunk down your money and, with the exception of grieving other players, what makes you happy is legit. If creating a level one toon and spinning in circles in the starting area makes you happy, then spin away.

One thing I’ve noticed in the MMORPGs I’ve played (City of Heroes, World of Warcraft and now Lord of the Rings Online) is that most of what I enjoy are the stories and game behind the game. Why did person x send me to place y to collect z? What does that quest tell me about the area? Would my character actually find that quest noble or think it a waste of his time and skills? Added to those questions are things like exploring new areas and seeing or doing stuff I haven’t seen or done before.

As much as possible, in the future:

- I will attempt to avoid getting trapped in game mechanics. Yes, I need a given amount of xp to get to the next level, just like everyone else. But I’m not going to obsess about it. When I level, I level. I won’t take quests without thinking about them and I will try to enjoy the story and the spirit behind the quest along with its actual execution.

- I will avoid referring to help sites. Sites like Thottbot are nice if you’re really stuck. However, when using those sites becomes a crutch to avoid having to explore an area or figure out something then it diminishes the game play for me. Explore. Figure stuff out. It’s fun and when I do finally get the thing I was after it will be that much more gratifying.

- Role-play. Not just when other folks are around, but make a constant effort to get inside my character’s head space. How does my hobbit hunter feel about being in Ered Luin? Happy? Sad? Misses the Shire? Feels at home in the woods? What does he think about the elves in the area? Is a given quest a waste of time? Something worth while? Constantly trying to view the world through a character’s eyes is what RP is all about. I will try to do it more often to enhance my gaming experience.

- Do things just because they’re there regardless of any tangible rewards. The most fun I’ve had recently was a guild run to the ruins north-west of Bree in the Weather Hills. To the best of my knowledge, there are no quests for any of the mobs there, no “phat loot” available and no boss there worth killing. But we went anyway and for a good hour we had a blast exploring and killing and basically poking around in a place none of us had seen before. I plan on doing more stuff like that. Raiding a place just because it’s there. Climbing mountains just because I can. Another thing I enjoyed was getting to know the Old Forest. Referring to no maps other than those available in the game, I can now navigate to most of the areas of interest just by dead reckoning, general directions and using landmarks. It’s neat that other players will appeal to me to tell them where things are or how to get to point A from point B. The Old Forest is a maze but it’s one I’m getting more and more familiar with. Such knowledge also fits in well with my role-play of my hobbit hunter: he’s a pathfinder and guide and the Old Forest is an area he knows well.

With my resolutions above, I hope to avoid a lot of the grinding and boredom and just sit back and enjoy the trip. Getting to the max level is nice but enjoying the ride is even better. It’s a ride I have to take whether I want to or not, so I may as well enjoy it.

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