I love LOTRO and Tolkien’s Legendarium. If you know me, you will know that. I have for the most part been a supporter of Turbine as well for good and bad and believe the lore-abiding approach they have shown towards Lord of the Rings is admirable and one of the most important reasons I have enjoyed the game for 7 years.
I have decided to leave LOTRO and cease my LOTRO related projects. I hadn’t imagined this 3 months ago, but different circumstances have made me realise that the community and environment isn’t enough reason for me to keep playing the game, no matter how much I care about both.
Investing time and effort in a game is all or nothing for me, so I will make it a clean break. I also believe that there are enough people out there complaining about a game they no longer play that one more isn’t needed.
There is nothing dramatic about this. You can read my reasons below if you are curious, but in essence it is just time for me to move on.
I should be sad about this, but I’m not. The friendships I have made will continue through other channels and I treasure the experiences I have had through 7 years in Middle-earth. There is nothing to be sad about for me.
So, my reasons for leaving. The main reason is as I said above that it is just time for me. Without wanting to sound like a diva then I have outgrown LOTRO. I have been through every quest, deed, raid, bug, cosmetic, mount, title, instance, etc. - and most of them several times. The prospect of a new class or upgraded inventory no longer excites me for more than half an hour. The past year or so has more or less just been finishing deeds and titles on alts since I completed them on my main minstrel. And when that wasn’t enough, expanding my LOTRO projects such as deed location maps and completionist tracker, and getting more involved in the community. As it turns out, it’s not enough.
Classes & Skills
One of the things I like about characters is skill customization. Being able to build a character’s skills in a way that fits my role and play style. And most importantly where my choices make a difference - through traits and how I use the skills. I no longer feel that they do and I feel that a specific role and style is being forced upon me.
I generally like and enjoy the quests and epic story in LOTRO. I feel that the story lines are for the most part really well done. Any issue I have is that somehow the content (or players) has shifted in a way that people prefer to do most things solo. Most content is so easy that while it might be fun soloing a fellowship skirmish one time, there is not much incentive to do things together anymore or there is no challenge in it. For whatever reason it has become too easy and I feel like deeds and accomplishments are just a grind rather than challenge. I might as well just buy the accomplishment in the store.
I see promise in that developers are looking into improving the kin management system and how they can “make it more rewarding to work together on something” to quote a livestream from yesterday. But I’m not excited enough about it to think it can change my mind now at least.
Community & Communication
Getting involved in the community is both rewarding and frustrating at times. There are so many dedicated individuals, kins, artists, podcasters, bloggers and more that contribute to a wonderful community.
However, these are drowned in what I see more and more of: a tendency to either be or peceive others to be for or against LOTRO/Turbine with very little middle-ground, mature discussions or respect for others’ viewpoints. Unfortunately this is not being handled very well by Turbine either in my opinion. This is extremely frustrating to watch.
Turbine needs to get more involved in the community. They should be promoting player livestreamers (not just their own), websites, blogs, podcasts, events much more than now - and not be so afraid of who or what have criticism for them. Interact more with players and encourage events, put happenings on the front page of LOTRO.com. Hey, how about popping in as visible GMs in game events just to show you care?
In stead of seeing the community opinions as a threat and actively ignoring/quenching criticism, listen and respond to it when it is genuine and mature. Even when admitting errors/bugs the community is surprisingly understanding when it is done timely and honestly.
Turbine has always held the cards close to their chest and has not been very open about future plans, numbers of any kind, admitted errors or been proactive in anticipating player responses. I feel this has gotten worse - or perhaps I just see it more clearly now. Kudos to Aaron Campbell for bringing more openness to LOTRO lately. I hope it will continue and improve others’ experiences compared to mine.
Also, I sincerely hope that they will slacken the 100% NDA on the poor Player Council members this year. The council is currently an open target of envy, trolling and blame without any chance of proving it wrong. This is actively working against what I assume was the idea of the council.
I have always received excellent service from Turbine’s customer & tech support. I have always had help when I had a problem and felt that the support was genuinely trying to help me and always very swiftly. A big thank you to the teams for that.
Where I am not feeling valued is when I have won three prizes through LOTRO competitions and not once received the prize or not received the promised prize. This is a small thing and something I would normally shrug at if it wasn’t because Turbine completely ignores attempts to get it corrected and only responds when people are pestering them continuously. This is not acceptable to me.
Moreover, I have seen players (myself included) being made responsible both officially and in private messages by Turbine for issues or for raising issues that are clearly Turbine’s problems/faults, sometimes even with more or less open threats. This is not something I say lightly and while others might interpret it differently then it is very clear to me what I have seen and experienced and this, this is something I can not tolerate. It is outrageous to me and is a major contributor to why I am leaving.
Some might wonder why I don’t mention the monetization, hobbit gifts, Epic Battles, lack of this or that, etc. It is simply because those are things that I could live with or even approve of. These have had little influence on my decision to leave.
I may or may not start playing another MMO. However, I know that LOTRO is unique because of the extensive and incredible lore from Tolkien, so I am not sure I can or will invest as much time in other games as I have in LOTRO.
My website will still be available and everything on it, but I will no longer maintain my projects. That includes:
- Berry’s Completionist Tracker
- Slayer & Exploration Deed Maps
- Cosmetic, Mount and Housing Galleries
- Fluffy Wish List
I haven’t decided what to do about Twitter yet. I might stay on @toarda or I might make a new account or not at all, depending on whether I start playing another MMO.
In-game I still have TP and Mithril Coins for a year or more, so maybe I’ll log in once in a while to spend those on mounts and cosmetics, but I doubt that I will return unless something significant above changes.
I wish you all well, and may your dreams be full of small furry feet and lots of pies.
Edit: For those who have contacted me having read “interpretative” versions of my reasons other places, I can only say that above is the the truth in its entirety. Picking one or two lines from above and subjectively interpreting that as my reasons alone is not. Also, I am quite content with my decision, I do not regret playing and supporting the game, and I thank everyone who can see and respect that and for all the kind comments. I appreciate it very much.
Please don’t put more into my words or guess that you know some ‘underlying’ reasons or individuals responsible for this. I have written exactly what I mean and Turbine means the company and their strategy, not any individuals. Thank you.