“Imagine if you will…”

~By Jim B. on 09/25/08

The Green Dragon, as we read about it in the novel and see it in the film, seems to be a lively pub frequented by the busily gossiping residents of Hobbiton and Bywater after a hard day’s work. When you visit it in LOTRO though, you might be let down just a bit. Sure, you can see the room is pub-esque, but from a first impression it doesn’t exactly live up to its counterparts in the other media; the crowd of chatting hobbits is replaced by a small group quietly talking in a corner. Indeed, you might ask, where is the pub-itude ?!

Well, luckily I happen to have an answer to that question. Probably not the right answer, but I like it. Anyways, I’m going to compare the LOTRO Green Dragon to a common household fridge – yes, you heard me right… Small children are sometimes confused as to what happens to the light inside the fridge when you close the door. They’ll repeatedly open and close the door, trying to get a peek of what it looks like inside the fridge when they can’t see inside. Some of these children discover the small button that the door closes on top of and realize that it controls the light. The rest of the children are (bad pun alert) left in the dark. As far as they know, any number of spectacular things could be happening inside their fridge while they’re not looking.

And this is where my analogy comes into play. I invite you, as we in English 115F often enjoy doing, to “imagine if you will” that the Green Dragon of LOTRO is but a common household fridge… While your character is inside – that is, when the fridge door is open – nothing seems to be going on. But step outside the pub; close that fridge door. Now that your eyes and ears aren’t telling you that the pub is too quiet, you are free to pretend that it’s every bit as lively as it was in the film or the novel. Nifty, eh ? But it doesn’t end there. See that NPC standing over there ? Yeah, that one, wearing the straw hat and the apron. Just watch her for a few minutes.

Are you going to tell me that she is always standing in that same spot, no matter what time it is in Middle Earth ? That seems awfully boring. Let’s fix it: wrap up whatever business you may have with her, and then move on to another location. Now imagine she’s gone inside her house to do whatever it is that hobbit NPCs like to do when no one’s looking (fill in the blank yourself if you want, but let’s try to keep this PG). Problem solved.

A major part of enjoying a game is understanding that, once in a while, it’s necessary to supplement what you can see and hear with your own creativity. NPCs have to be confined to a single spot or predetermined path in order to be accessible to anyone at any time. A creative player can get around this and make the story more believable. And that’s funny: using imagination to make something more realistic. Another thought to ponder I guess.

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1 thought on ““Imagine if you will…””

  1. I think your comment about using one’s imagination is spot on. We have to suspend a lot of beliefs just to enjoy a tale that involves something we call a Hobbit. Furthering that, we need to consider wrapping our imagination somewhat into the conduct of the gamespace. The designer and the technical platforms don’t allow for the same sort of experiences that a movie can offer at this time.

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