Last night I did MPvP for the first time in a long time. I've done it before, but not since several people on my server had gotten to 50 (the current level cap). When I arrived, all the bases had been taken for the Free People. When I left, they belonged to the bad guys again! Yay, badguys! :) It was neat to be in a raid with all those orcs, wargs and spiders attacking the bases. We had a great raid leader too and *gasp* most of the raiders listened to him!
My experience raiding in the Ettenmoors was a lot different from the zerg v zerg garbage that went on in WoW. Perhaps it's the maturity of LoTRO's target audience, but it seems like a better environment in general if you prefer not feeling like an underpaid babysitter without 'fridge privileges. There's a lot that I still like about WoW, but the average maturity of the player base ain't on the list of likables. There are kiddie morons in LoTRO as well, but they don't seem to stay long and tend to have the volume turned down when they stay.
In other news, a recent post by Tobold about grouping in MMORPGs got me to thinking about the group v solo thing with MMORPGs. Personally, I like the freedom afforded by soloing a lot. It's nice to wind down after work by getting lost in the Lone Lands or the North Downs for a couple hours. It's also nice to be able to pack up and leave when I want to. As I've discussed elsewhere, playing alone in a MMORPG isn't necessarily anti-social or silly. There are times when I leave a zone specifically because there are too many group quests and not enough solo ones. This happened to me in the Lone Lands: I have about eight group quests and can't find any soloable ones. Now I feel compelled to wait until my guildmates are on to work on the group ones.
The reason I'll be waiting for my Kinship mates is because I can pursue other avenues to get xp. The North Downs is a neat zone with a lot of solo content available, so I've been questing there. But what if there weren't solo content available? What if I HAD to group to get something done in the game? The consequences of forced-grouping systems the Tobolds points out in his article are interesting: if you're a known asshat, you won't get groups and you won't level. Blacklisting a player in a game like Everquest has serious consequences for a player. In WoW, even the biggest ass on the server can still get to 70. There's no push towards following the norms of behaviour in a game if you can have everything in the game without following the rules. Perhaps LoTRO's grouping system is a decent balance between the no-group-no-level approach of EQ and the no-pressure system of WoW. Perhaps the grouping system in LoTRO is also partly responsible for the playerbase's maturity? The last statement may be a stretch since I think the subject matter attracts more mature gamers than the grouping construct.
Cool idea I'll never be able asked about by industry insiders: build in a reputation system for players to rate other players. Each person (account) only gets one vote. You can mod someone up if there are a good player / person, or mod them down if they're an idiot. Being on people's ignore lists mods you WAY down. So when you're putting together that PUG, you could see a potential player's mod rating and decide whether you want to chance inviting them or whether you'll take a pass.