Prologue Quests = Boring

My first experiences with Lord of the Rings Online have been rather boring. I have not yet gotten to the Epic Book 1 quests but I did complete the Prologue Quests.  Just like any other game, LOTRO uses the prologue quests to get the player acclimated to the game. For some people this is certainly helpful but for others it is just boring and tedious. I have very little experience with MMO’s, but even I found myself paying very little attention to what I was doing during the Prologue Quests. The quests themselves did not provide all that much action or excitement. I found myself leading my character around to various people and talking to them about things I didn’t care about. I was bored most of the time with the tedious and repetitive tasks I was presented with. Even when I strayed from the quests to go kill some wolves, the game could only keep me entertained for so long. I want instant gratification and excitement from a game and the Prologue Quests did not provide this for me.

                The quests were clearly designed to introduce the story behind the game as well as the controls and various aspects to the game. As a player, I had read the LOTR book and watched the movie. I had a pretty good idea of where I was and what was going on. Also, my experience with gaming made it very easy to figure out how to play the game with very minimal help from the game itself. I found myself being forced to do various activities with my character that I didn’t want to do. I understood the concepts of learning skills, using skills, attacking enemies, talking to characters and so on and so forth. Undoubtedly the prologue serves a role of great importance to new and inexperienced games, but for me it just proved to be tedious. I wanted to complete the prologue quests and get them out of the way. Granted they did not take any more than an hour, but still they left me with a bad first impression of the game.

                As for the quests and their relation to Tolkien’s world, I think there are many similarities. The most obvious of these similarities are the races, the characters, and the landscape in which you play. All these are taken directly from Tolkien because after all the game is based on Tolkien’s work.  A further similarity can be drawn to the Hobbit Prologue Quests.  Here the player begins in the shire just as Tolkien’s story begins with Bilbo Baggins in the shire. The game play itself begins to shift away from Tolkien’s world as the action begins. Tolkien must begin his writing by describing all the various aspects of the new world he is depicting.  In the game however, the character is instantly immersed into the landscape and everything can be seen through the gamers’ eyes. There is no need for words or descriptions as a constant visual is provided. The player is instantly in control and can do as he or she chooses. The player is not being influenced and directed by Tolkien’s words, but now rather the player is in control and making a story for himself.

                Another interesting comparison between Tolkien’s world and LOTRO is the way in which both initially develop. Tolkien describes the world he has created with his words. Any reader would be totally unfamiliar with Middle Earth and its inhabitants, so Tolkien must devote many words to describing these things. In a similar way, the designers of LOTRO assume that a new gamer has no idea what he or she is doing. So the designers put the Prologue Quests in to familiarize a new player with what the game has in store for them.  Both “introductions”, although very different, are also similar in that they both try to create comfort and familiarity with something that may be new or unusual.

                Perhaps it is because I just don’t like MMO’s in general, but I did not enjoy my first experiences with LOTRO. While doing the Prologue Quests I just wanted to be fully immersed in the game. I wanted instant satisfaction and a chance to win but with LOTRO this is not possible. It is a long, winding road to the top and I do not think this is a road I want to travel. I enjoy games that I can become good  at and win at quickly. I do not like having to put extensive time and effort into games to become good at them. I especially do not like this when it comes to games like LOTRO where time and effort are more important than skill. Judging by the Prologue Quests and my prior knowledge of  what MMO’s are I know it will take a lot of time and game play to improve my character.  This is not my type of game and it is not something I can see myself playing much beyond  what is needed for class.

-Matt Almeida

A New Story

I have never played an online role-playing game, so I was a little confused when I started playing Lord of the Rings online. I didn’t who exactly I was, where I was, and who the people that were running around the map were. I started out as a Hobbit, since that was the race I was most familiar with. When the actual game started, I saw that I was in a small room with a number of other people. I spent about five minutes trying to either leave the room or talk to someone, before I finally figured out I had to talk to the postmaster. I didn’t read what he was saying, because I was anxious to start playing the game. After leaving the post office and meeting Bounder Boffin, I got my first taste of combat. It was mostly just jabbing the mouse button, but it was still fun. I then fought some more spiders, talked to some people, and discovered a town, before getting bored and logging off.

As for my impressions of the story, I didn’t see enough of it to make a judgment, and I did not really see the dialogue because I wanted to see what the game was like.  However, I did like the fact that  you got to make your own character and your own story. If I had been forced to play as Frodo or Sam or any of the other characters in the story, I would have felt I would not be able to make my own choices. With your own character, you can project your own personality and character onto him. Another thing I liked was that I had freedom to walk around and explore the world. I recognized a number of  places from the movies and book, and it was interesting to explore the game’s setting, and I suspect I’ll be able to do quests in a variety of locations on the map.

Overall, I think I’ll like the game. The story will probably get more interesting, the setting is dynamic and diverse, and I have my character just the way I want him: a guardian Hobbit.

– Kashyap Saxena

Where’s MY Golden Compass and Ring of Power?!

by:  Calvin Patimeteeporn

The Golden Compass and Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring both take on two versions of what we define as a “fantasy” world. One takes on the adaption of our pre-existing vision of a fantasy world set in a country filled with different races including elves, dwarves, and wizards. The other, however, takes on an adaption of our own world but, for the lack of a better term, “fantasized”. Compass introduces a world to the audience that is very similar to ours, even including some of the same countries, but allows some fantasy aspects to fall through, such as witches and talking polar bears. Fellowship introduces a world that we know to call “the fantasy dimension” with the typical elves and dwarves. Again, both are fantasy, but both display two different worlds.

However, plot-wise, they, and numerous other fantasy films, are extremely similar. Both heroes are, in their worlds, considered unimportant and meek (a hobbit and a little girl). However, its this emphasis on their unimportance that actually make them important. A recurring theme in both of these movies (and every single Disney movie ever in existence ever) is that even the most unlikely to be heroic character can be, well, heroic. Lyra ends up saving multiple universes and Frodo stops Sauron. Both unimaginable tasks completed by a midget and kid. But of course no hero’s journey is complete without the “supernatural aid” of others: Frodo has Gandalf, the old wizard, and Lyra has Iorek, the talking polar bear (Both Ian McKellen!). These characters are immensely powerful but do not actually play the role as the main hero, despite their advantage, but rather they support and guide the character through their epic. But even with this placed aside, the theme of unity is present in both movies. The fellowship of a mix of races and the motley crowd of witches and humans both provide a metaphor to the power of unity (cheesy, yes) and how it is able to accomplish, even the hardest of tasks.

These movies provide both a great amount of differences and similarities, but both are classified as the same genre. Both approach a different world and a different cast of characters, but plot similarities exist as demonstrated through both protagonists.

But all I want to know is when are a sage-like professor with a staff and a giant talking squirrel voiced by Ian McKellen going to come into my life and aid me through college.

-Calvin

Crazy Badass Midget

By: Dan Nockels

For my character bio for Ramboing my Hobbit Burglar I decided to write a short narrative piece. I like the idea showing people what Ramboing is like rather than just telling them. Needless to say I can’t include all of this in the measly 3 sentences allowed on LotRO there I will have to tell about him.  This story is from Ramboing’s perspective it is a little bit stream of consciousness and begins in a dream so without further ado Ramboing:

Heaven if one could ever be found. The Shire, I love it beyond measure there is no word to describe my devotion to it. The soft short lines of the hills described in front of verdant farmland. In those hills good houses, the only good house, and good folk, the only good folk. Good people who like good things, good things like this piece of hot flaky mushroom pie. Oh, how I adore the green dragon and this multihued brown masterpiece. Its almost a shame to eat it, but then again it is a shame not to as well. Who would ever leave this place, with its perfect food, perfect calm and perfect women? Oh and how perfect women, never has there been a muse so wondrous found in the entirety of Other Places that could match the most homely of Hobbit maidens. Not that there are many homely at all, most of them are shining goddesses and provoke thoughts, oh such thoughts, that they best go unmentioned. So much better than the Other women foul and sickening lot, distended, gangly, vile, EVIL.  And Other food, putrid filth, I would sooner eat good Shire dirt. Not that that’s necessary with this delicious piece of mushroom pie steaming right in front of me. Mmm lifting the folk to my mouth is a torturous wait. The anticipation is …

 

Wake up small one

 

The hard ground greets my arousal. The oaf wakens me. I can see him looking at me with his huge porous face and greasy hair and watery eyes the sight of him makes me run a hand over my dagger.

 

What.

 

I am trying to be nice I really am, I try not to let on how disgusting and wrong he is. Big people all alike in their vile ways even this one who guides me to the real threat. Well, imminent threat anyway as long as big people exist the paradise of the Shire will never be safe. To protect the shire is the only reason to leave it. I love the shire. I give my life to it.

 

Over the ridge, orcs.

 

Others, the threat, they must be stopped before they can harm the Shire. I am up sprinting toward the ridge. I feel the connection of the earth to the Shire I am gone. I barely stir the wind as I approach. This is fitting for I am nothing. I don’t matter, except the protection I can give to the Shire. As nothing I approach the first orc, I can smell it, taste its Otherness. I don’t know how strong it is, I don’t care. It must be destroyed. Carefully aim as myself, as nothingness. Now I strike with the fury of heaven as the scion of the Shire. I can feel its putrid lifeblood spilling out and its strength ebbing. As it dies I can see home.