Thoughts About Raiding

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First off let me introduce myself. My name is Bludborn. I typically play on the Elendilmir Server and I am member of the kinship, Into the West. I have been playing since November of 2007 and have had an active subscription the entire time. The last time I checked, I had over 8000 hours logged. I have also played other MMOs such as World of Warcraft, Age of Conan, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Guild Wars 2 and a few others. In LotRO I have level capped all classes (pre-level 100 release) and mastered all Crafting Guilds. I play both PVE and PvMP content. That being said, lets jump into what I want to talk about, group content.

The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it. Okay Galadriel, its maybe not that extreme but it’s still fitting.

Over my hours and years of playing this game a lot of things have changed. One of the most notable for me has been the change in group content. When I started playing The Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) in 2007, I had never played an MMO or a Lord of the Rings game before. Little did I know how much it would impact my life. Yes, a game, had a dramatic effect on my life. From meeting new people that would fly internationally to attend my wedding, to taking down raid bosses as a world/server first, to just jumping around fences in the Shire while talking to friends on Skype or Ventrilo, this game has truly left a mark on my existence.

A screenshot from the first day of playing LOTRO back in 2007

A screenshot from the first day of playing LOTRO back in 2007

A little back story.
I remember walking around in the Lone Lands not having a clue as to what I was doing when a friendly Elf Minstrel named Tarsalt (an alt of Tarcuthalion) came up to me and asked why my Champion was not running Fervour. I really didn’t have an answer and continued on about my quest. He offered to help me out and informed me that his main was, in fact, a Champion, that was level capped. Well, now I was quite intrigued. I continued to play with Tar and he clued me in on a lot Champ techniques and this immediately made my experience much better in the game. I later joined his kinship, The Lorien Alliance. It would be a couple months before I would level cap. This was still back when there was no quest helper and you could not get a horse until level 35. Up until this point, I did not even know there was such a thing as “group content”. I figured you could just “group up” and quest and that was the extent of it. Man, was I wrong.

Fast forward to me being level capped and getting to know my kinship quite well. I kept seeing in chat, both GLFF and Kin Chat, about this Rift Raid. I asked my kin what this was and they told me it was a group dungeon that took 12 level capped characters with pretty good skill and gear to complete. I was invited to go with them on their next run and I accepted. This is where my experience in LOTRO changed forever.

Sunday night rolled around and I see in Kin chat that the raid is forming up and to type in chat if I was going. I type in saying I was available and ready to go (I really wasn’t). I had no health or power pots, no food, no tokens and I surely hadn’t repaired yet. I would quickly learn this was a necessity to do this type of content. After a few very nice kin mates equipped me with the previously needed goods, I was now ready to go. Summons were sent out to the mustering horn in the far northeast part of Angmar, to somewhere I have never been before. Already this was exiting. We met up at the gate and entered the Rift of Nurz Ghashu. Several hours later, we were finished for the night, but has not completed the raid. I asked why we didn’t finish it and the raid leader at the time, Hobbs, replied that we didn’t need to do it all in one night because it had locks, sort of save points after completing a certain boss. He also informed me we would be continuing another night so we could attempt to take down the Balrog.

Monday night rolls around and I had no idea that I would spend the next 3-4 hours attempting to kill the Balrog. Between excitement and frustration I was learning a ton about my kin mates play styles and my own. It would be a couple more weeks before we would actually take down the Balrog. In that time I was getting new gear from the runs and from crafting, and I was learning how to play the Champion much better. Then, it happened. The night we get to the Balrog and he was taken down. Cheers all around in game voice and in chat. Quite the emotional high. We were so happy and proud of the accomplishment. It was exactly that, an accomplishment. A cold, hard, fact, that we had completed this. Proof was in the title provided – Vanquisher of Thaurlach. I was now completely hooked on instances, raiding and more importantly, grouping with friends.

First Balrog Kill. Back in 2008

First Balrog Kill. Back in 2008

 

Now the purpose of this article is not to get all nostalgic. It is to state an opinion that is supported only by my own history with the game. I have no stats or facts to back this up.

I dearly miss this aspect of the game. Now, you might be saying “…but Blud, you can still raid in LOTRO.” I would have to both agree and disagree. Yes, there are instances that you can do with 12 people and get rewards. The difference is that it really doesn’t take the same level of skill and dedication to do it anymore, and this is where I always look back to the Rift and say ‘Remember when…?” I was very happy with raiding up until Barad Guldur. To think that there was a fight in which my class was not preferred to take was saddening. There was a mechanic in this fight that mitigated melee damage and made it so champions sat around and auto ranged attack while being AFK. Raiding after that kind of tapered off for me until Ost Dunhoth came out and later Isengard. While these raids had their challenges and certainly their rewards, they just did not require the same type of skill as in the past. Now maybe thats because we are all better players a couple years in. I don’t know. But then came Erebor. Players taking PUGs in and completing Battle for Erebor in under 2 minutes!? I think that was the absolute rock bottom for raiding in LOTRO. What happened to the days when you wanted, rather, needed to be in a good kin to accomplish this type of content? They are gone now.

Some arguments have been made that population of the “raiders” was a small percent. I see that only through the lens the game provided me. I was in multiple “raiding” kinships and when the content wasn’t there, neither were the players. So perhaps I have a jaded perspective on the issue and thats okay too. Something else was done to “help” the issue and that was classic instance scaling. The idea was you could revisit these great instances with your new level cap, gear, virtues, and so on. The downside to this was/is that as we level up our strength grows exponentially, making the content ridiculously easier. Not to mention quite boring as the years go on.

Bludborn at Helm's Deep

It all boils down to one point for me. Please reconsider making well conceived, story driven, challenging group content.

32 comments

  1. Welcome, Blud! Nice to read your thoughts

  2. Gabriyel /

    Bludborn, you said so eloquently how I have been feeling for a while. I miss the good Raiding days too

  3. Mandura /

    really missing the good ol’ days…

  4. Zyngor /

    Good thoughts, Blud – glad you decided to post ’em up!

    While I’m not in the same raiding boat as others, I’d still love to see content be offered to cater toward that crowd. Everyone deserves some love, after all, and it seems that some of the upcoming story events *could* present the opportunity for the team to provide a more established instance(s) to display these epic [SPACE…not like outer-world space, but separating “epic” far from “battle”] battles, like Campbell had discussed in his notes.

  5. Great article Blud!

    Having come into LORTO just after RoR I missed all those ‘fun’ days. I am generally a solo player but I kept hearing word of the fabled Balrog in the Rift, Mirkwoooooooood, ITA’s amusing plot etc and eventually some kind folks took me in for my first raid – which was soooo fun. I learned a lot about my classes, tips and tricks just from those content.

    However, I never fit in with the raiding scene on my server – I love goofing off and honestly wiping is a blast, so nowadays I stick with my group of friends and teach lower leveled kin mates tricks we learned from running those instances.

    I’d love to see LOTRO implement a free people’s down scaling system just to experience it all on level with my friends. Doubt it’ll happen but I still got hope for traditional instance and raid content to make a return one day.

    That said – SHELOB RAID PLEASE

    • Goblinbane /

      Make toon to level 50. Buy Stone of the Tortoise (whose price has been recently reduced to 100) and you can make Angmar instances/raids on level as much as you wish if you make group of similar people. And people from many servers could make such raiding kin of 50’s on one server to make it easier to find groups.

      • Several of my characters own those exp disablers, honestly I love them because quest exp is insane and I like the idea of doing stuff on level. Will I ever decide to cap a character at 50? Not sure yet and if so it wont on my main server – though I’ve been toying with that idea on landroval 🙂

    • Goblinbane /

      And of course Turbine could solve many problems that raiders have now by redesigning current instances and rebalancing rewards. The game has lot of instances. Scaling them (or – maybe easier to do – downscaling of toons similar to upscaling in HD) could make them more interesting and enjoyable for people. Cause the content is in the game – Barrows, Garth Agarwen, Fornost, Angmar, Moria, Mirkwood, Isengard, Erebor, Annuminas – dozens of instances are in those clusters but many forgotten by devs (and there are also skirmraids).

      So even if they do not have now enough people to make new instances and raids, they could focus for some time on redesigning the wealth of group content that they already have in the game. I am solo player, I am totally not interested in instances and they are boring for me, but I can wait half year longer for new landscape regions, Not a problem cause in general sich rework would be surely good for game and make it live longer.

  6. Kaleigh Starshine /

    *cheers* 🙂

    I do think there are some things that could be done in the meanwhile to help as well with the content that already exists:

    1. Incentivize running different instances more

    Turbine has made 95% of their own end-game content worthless to do. Between the simplification of itemization with Helm’s Deep and the Tier 2 adjustments to instances without improving their rewards, there are only a tiny fraction of instances worth doing, all of them on Tier 1. With the Tier 2 changes, multiple Tier 1 instances can be run in the same amount of time it takes to do one Tier 2 instance, all while reaping far more rewards. Over half of the content right there (T2 and T2C) has been rendered worthless to run, save for maybe once for the deeds and sense of accomplishment.

    2. Deincentivize Epic Battles a bit

    Turbine really wants people doing the Epic Battles. The raid Deeping Wall battle rewards nearly 4,000 Marks, 900 Medallions, chances for First Age Symbols, and chances for Gold jewelry unobtainable outside the Epic Battle system, for 30-40 minutes of effort. No other group content comes remotely near this.

    I can understand that new content takes resources they may not have, but it makes no sense to render useless something that already exists and could help alleviate this issue.

    • Tinybel /

      Mmmm I’m fine with T2 being a quicker way to better gear, say a fully gold slotted teal essence piece. Or some unique cosmetics and mounts.
      I don’t want to go back to having superior gear gated behind raid/group content, it breeds a community like Wow has.

      • I don’t think our community was ever that bad, even when we did have more hardcore groups. The groups I was with would take the time to get the instance completed and learned and then take PUGs through. This has always been one of the best player communities I have experienced in the many MMOs that u have played.

      • What I did like about RoR’s “end game” gear was there was the good ol’ Hytbold (DA is not proper Turbine, 3 specs = 3 sets :() option or Erebor sets. I’ve love to see a return of this idea as it does satisfy solo vs group gear issue.

        Loot system revamp has been much cried for ages, will it happen is another thing. I’ll gladly welcome any change if it gets people off farming poor Sambrog!

      • Kaleigh Starshine /

        I have to agree with Bludborn again. LOTRO did not get its reputation for having a wonderful community only in the past two years, when raiding and group content were largely shelved. It came from the time when ‘raiding’ was at its peak.

        There will always be some bad apples. The thing that has to be remembered is that those same bad apples will be involved in every facet and every activity. Their presence does not mean the activity itself is the cause..

  7. Tarelros /

    Great article Bludborn. Since update 14, Turbine have significantly increased the difficulty of all tier 2 instances and raids. I feel this has definitely increased the challenge for players who like to raid and the excitement when we succeed. In a funny kind of way I welcome the change as it has renewed the interest in raiding and brought a few players back to Lotro. Ufortunately, Turbine have announced that in the forseeable future there will be no new raids or instances (I am excluding Big battles). I realise that the gaming market appears to be pushing developers towards the needs of casual gamers but don’t forget the raiders and experienced players.

    Tarelros
    Nimrodel

    • Goblinbane /

      Yes, casual players are now most important target for game developers, specially in f2p world. Whole games are designed specially for them, It was for example stated many times by developers of the World of Tanks. They started to design shooting/tactical game which could be played by 25-40 years old people after job not by hardcore (teenage) gamers. And they succeed cause youngsters do not dominate there over oldies like in fps. Such games for casual adult players are now most succesful.

      Devs in well managed games collect lot of stats showing which content is most popular, at which point people resign from playing, why they resign, and so on. These data are used to decide what to change, what remove (or stop developing) and so on. Income is most important factor. Popular and profitable things are developed, unpopular die.

  8. Amenhir /

    Turbine could not embrace f2p as much as they did if they continued in the direction the earlier content was taking them. When the game was sub based only you have an entirely different player base. Subscribers, typically, though not to bash f2pers, are usually more invested in the game, the best gear, the hard to achieve deeds. Those things existed in abundance till 75 cap. Which oddly enough around the time that f2p launched. There has not been a new raid cluster since 85 cap and that was tacked on buggy and relatively funless. The answer to the question of whether they can create this content is obvious because they can. They don’t want to, because they are no longer catering to a sub only economy. The real money is in fluff. Cosmetics slots, class and other steeds, pets, MC to reset quests to get more pets.

    The raid model, if it is ever to return would require a major influx in subscribers demanding such content, and that ship has sailed. Give us more fluff, and they are more than willing to accommodate. I can create a slew of pets using MS paint, how long does it take to do that with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of software and equipment? Now with essence gear and that grind, a capped player never need to enter another instance or raid for gear again. With u15 coming you will be able to barter for the gold jewelery, so expect calls for the new epic battle and endless helm’s dike runs from now until everyone has a set of gold shinies. Which will enable them to kick butt on the pvp side of things, and I would expect that to be the next big change. Because creeps spend lots of money. Have you ever been impaled by an r1 reaver?

  9. Here’s a crazy thought. What if Turbine offered one-time transfers to a new “Raiders Recommended” (or maybe Grouping recommended) server? If those who enjoyed raiding opportunities as part of their game play were grouped with like-minded individuals, perhaps they would be able to retain that portion of the player base more effectively? The player retention might more than make up for the lost revenue of the free transfer offer…
    This takes almost no Devt time except for the transfer process and follows the existing blueprint of having RP recommended servers…

    It’s not a replacement for new content, but allows more opportunity to do existing content for those so inclined..

    • Definitely some interesting ideas. I think anything with server transfers has pretty much been squashed at this point though.

  10. How do you mean? It can be spun as specialization, NOT the panicky consolidation that sets off all kinds of alarms… I believe they did some work to further automate this function so that it is not as manually intensive as it once was as well.

    • I guess i should not read things while working, I read that as merger…. my apologies.

    • Andang /

      That is a really good idea or even just making a raiding recommended server would help a lot and at no cost to Turbine.

      • Goblinbane /

        Same with monster play, Many games have servers dedicated for PvP, here people interested with it are dispersed (same like raiders).

  11. Awesome article 🙂 Can I have some more please 🙂

    And nice to see such active LOTRO comment discussion 🙂

    • Yup working on a couple things right now. In the meantime, come on over to my YouTube, Patreon, Facebook, and Twitch pages.

  12. Rabbitses /

    I play this game to hang out in and explore the world of Middle-earth. I could care less about raid and other sorts of mechanics, but I am glad they are there to experience when I want to. It all comes down to the world for me, and this game presents that world very well.

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