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The Destiny of Lord of the Rings Online

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the smallest-things-can-change-the-world dept.

Lord of the Rings 184

An anonymous reader writes "Julian Murdoch over at Gamers With Jobs posits that the recently released Lord of the Rings Online, for all it's flaws, is a new kind of game — the Destiny-Locked RPG: 'The reason that Story sets LOTRO apart is because you know how it ends. This is a luxury World of Warcraft simply can never have. There is no logical end to WoW, where the evil WoW faction of the Horde is victorious, and every member of the good-aligned Alliance dies. The viciously PvP nature of EVE Online means that the story can only sit on the sidelines and inform, not take center stage. But in LOTRO, the game is the story. In this, the game has far more in common with Oblivion than it does with WoW.' The argument here is that a game in which the outcome is known is fundamentally a different (and possibly better) form of gameplay than that the current rage of emergent-gameplay sandbox weak storied games. A challenging idea." It's not so much that the game's ending is already known, as that there is an ending.

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Not the first... (3, Interesting)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939499)

I think Star Wars Galaxies qualifies, as it's set between two pre-existing movies.

I also think the fact that the story was already written was part of it's downfall. The developers had no room to work with because they would keep bumping into canon.

Re:Not the first... (5, Insightful)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939615)

Exactly. When SWG came out, I truely questioned the decision to place the game into a known timeline. KotOR, while a completely different type of game, showed what was possible when given dramatic license in a known universe. Parts of the world SWG, at it's launch, removed the one lone aspect of the SW that would have allowed for a good game. Namelt, the Force. I see similar issues with this LotR game. I tried it, but wasn't captivated. The lack of class variety, due to the game trying to hold onto the ideals of the time and place of the story around it, leaves much to be desired. If I play a LotR game, I want to be Gandalf. I don't want to be background_character_01 which is what the game forces you to be even though it does weave your toon into the tale. When you read LotR it's a tale full of magic and conflict and excitement. When you play this game, it's a game of 1000 dwarves with swords and no magic. Much like SWG removing the force, they've taken magic out of the game to hold true to the story and in the end it ruined the game for me.

Re:Not the first... (5, Insightful)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939699)

SWG set in the KotOR would have been perfect. Everyone could be some form of Jedi/Sith and it would fit the setting perfectly. They were just too hell-bent on using their recognizable charaters to sell the game. "ZOMG u cn tlak 2 VADAR!!1!"

Re:Not the first... (1)

dc29A (636871) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940207)

SWG set in the KotOR would have been perfect.

If you want to beleive rumors, Bioware is supposedly working on a Star Wars MMOG set in the KotOR time line.

Re:Not the first... (1)

microTodd (240390) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940519)

"ZOMG u cn tlak 2 VADAR!!1!"

What the hell does this statement even mean?

Re:Not the first... (1)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940605)

I was commenting on their use of their most recognizable characters to sell the game. Implying that the great unwashed was attracted to SWG by the possibility of interacting with such notable figures as Darth Vader.

Re:Not the first... (2, Interesting)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940465)

Yeah, but do you really want 1000 Gandalfs running around...If you want to play Gandalf, a MMO is probably not the way to go. A single player game is probably more suited.

Re:Not the first... (2, Insightful)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18941245)

And... do you really want to see Gandalf getting his ass kicked by a slimy frog or a big rat when he is only level 1? Gandalf you know and love is probably like level 100 or something.

Re:Not the first... (5, Insightful)

PHPNerd (1039992) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940617)

When you read LotR it's a tale full of magic and conflict and excitement.
Wrong. When you read LotR, magic is a very rare thing. Only 6 wizards have it, and even then, they use it sparingly. It also only HINTS at the elves ability to use it, never outright saying it (perhaps with the exception of Elrond and the river outside of Rivendell in FotR). Anyway, my point is, this game is very true to the novels: magic in the LotR universe is very rare and not seen very often. This comes in an age of gameplay where every shmuck and his dog can have magic (see: Any MMORPG). I, personally, love the way its made. Magic isn't special anymore when everyone is a Gandalf.

Re:Not the first... (1)

(A)*(B)!0_- (888552) | more than 7 years ago | (#18941881)

If I am playing to pay a game every month, I want to be able to use magic.

Re:Not the first... (1)

code_nerd (37853) | more than 7 years ago | (#18944335)

So do so. Plenty of games out there let you sling fireballs.

Re:Not the first... (4, Interesting)

ThousandStars (556222) | more than 7 years ago | (#18941955)

Warning: LOTR nerd nitpicks ahead. There are only five wizards, two of whom are never named, and they don't use "magic" but have unusual power. Two of the wizards wander into the East and are never heard from again; Radagast is not terribly effective, Saruman lusts for power and becomes corrupt, and only Gandalf remains true to his purpose. The elves may or may not use the same thing, and they certainly do use what Sauron does, as Galadriel says in Book II of Fellowship in "The Mirror of Galadriel":

'And you?' [Galadriel] said, turning to Sam. 'For this is what your folk would call magic, I believe; though I do not understand clearly what they mean; and they seem also to use the same word of the deceits of the Enemy. But this, if you will, is the magic of Galadriel. Did you not say that you wished to see Elf-magic?'
Overall your point is well taken, and if everyone could use 'magic" in the way Gandalf does, the LOTR world would lose much of its appeal and just become another of the innumerable MMORPGs. Part of what's so special about Tolkien is that he doesn't translate well to video games, and his wars are not just modern combat but with funny clothes. When there's money to be made, however, the story can be damned.

Re:Not the first... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18944001)

But this, if you will, is the magic of Galadriel. Did you not say that you wished to see Elf-magic?

And then, she showed him her tits.

Re:Not the first... (1)

code_nerd (37853) | more than 7 years ago | (#18944441)

They are named, just not in LotR. The Blue Wizards [] are Alatar and Pallando, and went into the East, as did Saruman. Only Saruman returned.

Re:Not the first... (1)

tmarthal (998456) | more than 7 years ago | (#18944521)

I'm pretty sure that everyone that used "Magic" has a Ring of Power or other magical 'artifact'. Gandalf (the Ring of Fire) and Elrond (the Elven Ring of Water) both have rings of power. Galadriel (this is unconfirmed) might have a ring (the Elven Ring of Air?), but she definetly has that Mirror thing.

Saurumon does not have a Ring of Power, but he does have those other things (what is the thing/orb that he throws out of the Tower in the second book?) which empowers him to use "Magic". When they see him at the end, he has nothing and no power.

The Ring-Wraiths = bearers of the human rings; it is unclear/undocumented which Sauron has, but you know he has something.

Re:Not the first... (3, Interesting)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18942283)

I don't think magic is that rare in the books, but that extravagant displays of magic are rare. You have elven swords that glow when orcs are near, the palantir, the gates of Moria respond to voice commands, trolls that turn to stone in sunlight, etc... The one ring and the 3 elven rings are of course magical.

I like that they limit magic wielding players, but I hope the developers don't get caught up in the whole "magic is rare" thing in terms of player experience.

Re:Not the first... (0, Flamebait)

morari (1080535) | more than 7 years ago | (#18942393)

Wrong again, when you read Lord of the Rings you're bored to death. Try Dune. ;)

Re:Not the first... (2, Informative)

theelectron (973857) | more than 7 years ago | (#18941405)

I don't think you realize what the game was initially supposed to be. It wasn't a game where everyone starts as a jedi: that was KotOR. SWG was... well, SWG. It was a MMORPG, not a MMOFPS. If you want that, go play PlanetSide. Galaxies had one of the most complex and fun as hell games when it first came out. They decided that wasn't good enough and made it easy to become a jedi and killed the game because now a bunch of people with a12 year old mentality are running around going 'OMG!1 I b jedi!one chk out me leet skillz1!'

Re:Not the first... (3, Insightful)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 7 years ago | (#18941779)

Actually, you nailed the issue with SWG. The developers thought everyone would be cool with being 'normal' people in the Star Wars universe. Not a very good assumption, as Jedi is the biggest draw to the franchise. To make matters worse, they set the game in a time period where Force user population was at it's lowest. According to canon, there were 3 educated force users in existance. Palpatine, Vader, and (arguably) Luke. No matter how rare you make player character force users, there are still too many to fit with canon. And if you make them really rare, then the playerbase bitches up a storm.

Basically, SWG was in an unwinnable situation. If they gave their playerbase what they wanted, they killed lore. If they stuck to lore, then people didn't like the game.

You seem to think that everyone playing mundane characters made the game good, and everyone being a Jedi/Sith would automatically make it bad. Why? Why can't the originally well done crafting system and economy work in a KOTOR setting? All the things that made the game good are not tied to the character archetypes available.

Re:Not the first... (1)

theelectron (973857) | more than 7 years ago | (#18942659)

I don't think that allowing people to be jedi was the mistake, but making it too easy to be a jedi is. When I played, being a jedi wasn't what drew people to the game. And the people that wanted to play SWG just to be a jedi left pretty quickly, which weeded out a lot of idiots. Granted many people wanted to be a jedi, but doesn't everyone want to be a level 60 character in WoW? I agree that they should have picked a better time period if they wanted to stay cannon with lots of jedis. What you need to realize is that some people don't play Star Wars games just to be jedis. If they stuck to lore, then people didn't like the game. That is not true. People did like the game. Then SOE changed it and lost a very large portion of its player base. As far as I know, it is the only game that has an active community ( [] ) attempting to change it back to its original state, not because they just want to run and control their own servers, but because the original version was significantly better than its current version.

Re:Not the first... (1)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 7 years ago | (#18943219)

What you need to realize is that some people don't play Star Wars games just to be jedis.
And I think that group is a minority of the Star Wars fan base. Hell, lets not tie it to Jedi, and say that the majority of people played SWG to be hero (or villain) and take part in big battles reminiscent of the movies. They wanted to be Luke Skywalker, or Han Solo. Not a moisture farmer, stormtrooker TK421, or random master carbineer heroically taking out a nest of wamp rats.

The group of people you refer to wasn't big enough to sustain the subscription numbers that Sony expected. SWG was an excellent niche game when it launched. But it wasn't supposed to be a niche game. It was supposed to be the biggest MMO in the history of everything, and with Star Wars IP it could have been. The setting just made it difficult to deliver what a majority of their potential playerbase wanted.

Re:Not the first... (3, Insightful) (760528) | more than 7 years ago | (#18941143)

I disagree, the problems facing SWG weren't really about its setting in time as it were, and if you disconnect from the movies to some extent it still is a believable mmo but it suffers so many game-play problems... (keeping in mind i've played it since about 3 months after the release of JTL) for eg:

1) pvp - the pvp in this game was so badly thought out compared to just about ANY mmo out there (DAoC, WoW, EVE, etc)
2) towns and building - great idea but very terribly implemented (take a look at the boundaries around the major cities), they really should have done something alot better when it came to people being able to plonk buildings down everywhere.
3) Jedi - the hologrind sucked... the new system sucked... and in between we couldn't actually become jedi for like 6 months (what the hell were they thinking?!?!?), one of the stupidest moves in a game full of bad moves made by SOE.
4) JTL - something we were promised from the start and was made a paid-for expansion (and i really despise how MMO's can charge for an expansion when you already pay a monthly fee - this is one thing EVE got very right). DAoC is another example of this, sure they have development costs but those dev's are there full time anyway, which means your $15/mon (or whatever) is already paying their incomes. What was really painfull about this was when people didn't buy the expansions... 'nuff said.
5) Nerfing - everytime you turned around something was nerfed, sure you needed balance but you can hardly shoot for balance when SWG just kept changing everything all the time, there was just never any time to see if this balance was finally right.

What they got right:
1) the economy - Bar none THE BEST implementation of a player-owned economy. Eve likes to think its market is played controlled but thats really not true in any sense of the word. Everything in Eve comes back to NPC prices one way or another, sure t2 is mostly player controlled but even the base price of those items is set back towards what the npc related things are going to cost (even if the high-price is sometimes upwards of 100 or 1000 times its actual build cost).
2) the wide variety of professions (well thought out and the inter-dependence was quite well done) until JTL, what JTL did to the profession tree's was really quite painfull.
3) generally speaking, the concepts introduced in the game were fantastic ideas and if it wasn't implemented by SOE it probably would have worked. It was a very big shame SOE got the contract for it because they just had no idea at all... If you went back to the start and got another company to implement swg and made some minor changes to things like pvp and so forth it probably would have been up there with WoW.

Lucas arts were never particularly smart about the way they went about alot of the things they did, but oh well.

Re:Not the first... (1)

BarneyL (578636) | more than 7 years ago | (#18942869)

SWG is not tied to the stories to the same extent as LOTRO is, while limited by featuring characters that have a story some time in the future it does not follow these characters anywhere plot wise. We may know that Darth Vader has a destiny and so cannot be killed but SWG is fixed motionless in time and we will never see it.
LOTRO is different; for those of you who haven't played it has an epic quest line that follows the books, I have not gone far in the game but have already gone from a point where missions involved clearing the way for Frodo to make it to Bree to Aragorn having to flee the Prancing Pony following a visit from the Ring Wraiths. I gather that Turbine intend to continue in this way following the story to Mount Doom. It appears right now that as opposed to SWG LOTRO will actually meet it's destiny not just sit there and look at it from a distance.

Link's broken (1)

JNighthawk (769575) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939517)

You got an extra http, Zonk.

Known ending is unique in MMOs? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18939569)

I'll remember that the next time I'm in SWG, getting a mission from the Emperor... ...who gets thrown down a shaft by Vader... ...who dies just before the second Death Star blows up.
BTW, did you know he was Luke's father? Really!

Noone gets it right (1, Informative)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939587)

The horde is not evil in WoW, the alliance isn't good either.
Wow has had 3 maybe now 4 large world story events that were pretty hard to ignore. I thought that they were pretty fun, usually they opened up a new area or a new instance.

Re:Noone gets it right (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18939807)

The horde is not evil in WoW, the alliance isn't good either.
I disagree, and it bugs me a lot when people say that. Horde has always been the "evil" side in Warcraft. But that's a good thing. Trying to claim neither side is good or evil just waters down the game and makes it more bland and boring. I like playing the Good sometimes, and other times I like playing Evil.

Also remember that while Blizzard has developed their own story and world (somewhat) everyone who uses Orcs in fantasy got them from Tolkien. And Tolkien's Orcs are evil through and through. Undead and Trolls are also almost invariably "evil" in fantasy.

Re:Noone gets it right (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939839)

Classically they were evil. Now they just have evil factions and moronic players. However that apply to both sides. For the love of god, part of the human court is black dragons.

Re:Noone gets it right (3, Interesting)

SuperMog2002 (702837) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940527)

I submit to you the following for consideration, all of which can be learned by doing the quests in Ratchet and Westfall. At the end of the third war (Warcraft III), both the Alliance and Horde capitals were destroyed. The leadership of both factions paid for skilled craftsmen to build new capital cities. Thrall, leader of the Horde, hired a group of goblins from the Steamwheedle Cartel to build the orcish capital of Orgrimmar. He was very grateful for the their fine work and paid them well. The goblins were impressed enough with the orcs that they decided to start their own port town not far from Orgrimmar (Ratchet).

Meanwhile, the humans hired Edvin VanCleave and his guild of craftsmen to build the city of Stormwind. They likewise did an excellent job building the city. However, when they attempted to collect their pay after finishing, the government conveniently "forgot" that they had offered VanCleave any pay at all for his work. They threw him out on the streets of the city he built without a penny. Disillusioned with the kingdom of Stormwind, VanCleave and his guild reformed in to the Defias gang, who frequently terrorize Alliance players in the level 1 to 30 range. VanCleave himself is the last boss of Dead Mines, the first Alliance instance.

Which one of these sounds evil to you?

Re:Noone gets it right (1)

Phyvo (876321) | more than 7 years ago | (#18942421)

Of course, if you look at any specific instance of injustice you can twist the issues to your side of the argument. Evil in Warcraft can be cut cleanly, but not in that way. Basically, evil comes from demons and the old gods and is passed down to those who are corrupted by them. Who the heck knows where good comes from or why anyone bothers wirh it.

Re:Noone gets it right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18943871)

Point taken, but let me ask you this: Which faction has the prettier races?

Re:Noone gets it right (4, Informative)

shinma (106792) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940557)

Which is why World of Warcraft's orcs, trolls, and even Forsaken, to a point, are interesting. They break the mold. You may not see it, because you assume they fit old stereotypes, but they don't. The Orcs, Tauren and Trolls are all generally honorable races. In some ways, they are more "good" than either the humans or the elves.

Humans have enslaved Orcs and humiliated them for years, they kept them in concentration camps. Not to mention that one of their faction leaders is Onyxia.
Night Elves are selfish and desperate, and they even made it possible for the Burning Legion to attack.
Dwarves are nearly as bad as the Venture Co. at destroying the environment they live in, and therefore they clash with the nature-loving Tauren.
Gnomes IRRADIATED their own city to drive out invaders, and now they sponge off the Dwarves.
The Draenei are the opposite of the Blood Elves, in that they are ostensibly the only race in the game that can be called unreservedly "good." (This kind of falls flat when you consider hints that the Naaru aren't exactly the angels they're cracked up to be, and the Draenei become simply "naive" rather than truly "chosen" or anything of the sort.)

Orcs were oppressed, put into concentration camps and simply want their own homeland where people will leave them alone now. Sound familiar?
Tauren are members of the Horde because the orcs saved them from the centaurs that were invading their home. They are extremely honorable.
The Darkspear Trolls have forsaken cannibalism and embraced the Shamanistic culture of the Orcs.
The Forsaken have a faction that wants to kill everyone, yes, but other members are described by humans near Dalaran as "possessing more humanity than my fellow humans."
The Blood Elves are, arguably, the only truly "evil" race in the game. But even they are portrayed as more or less out of control, rather than blatantly malicious.

Everyone in Azeroth is generally far more nuanced than simple "good" or "evil." If you choose to only see the races as Tolkienn portrayed them, you're missing out on a lot of the story of World of Warcraft.

Re:Noone gets it right (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18941339)

The problem is I really don't give two figs about Blizzards "story" behind Warcraft, for several reasons.

First, it's obviously just taking Tolkien's fantasy elements and using them for their own purpose - which isn't necessarily bad, except for the following reasons:

A. It's not nearly as well written as Tolkien's works.

B. Blizzard's fantasy world is a lot more bland and watered down.

Second, They make the games first, based only on a very rough draft of the "story" and then finish the story afterwards so it "fits" the game. And in the end, you're still left wondering exactly how they got from one game to the next story-wise; some parts just don't work out no matter how much they try to explain them away.

Third, I really just don't care for a PC version of Tolkien's world, which is all Warcraft really is. "Orcs are bad. No wait, humans are bad for enslaving the 'bad' orcs. No wait, neither is really good or bad."

And no, LotRO is no better. In fact it's worse, as they didn't even make their own watered-down story. They just based their game on the movies, which are just Tolkien's story itself watered down to be made "comprehensible" for the average movie-goer.

If someone ever did make an MMORPG really based on Tolkien's world (not necessarily involving any of the events in his story) it would be a much better game than any fantasy MMO we've seen yet. But I'm not holding my breath.

Re:Noone gets it right (1)

shinma (106792) | more than 7 years ago | (#18941931)

So basically, you ignore the story and then argue that things in World of Warcraft are the way that you imagine they should be based on the (unrelated in all but the most general of ways) works of another author that died twenty years before Warcraft existed, despite the fact that they blatantly aren't.

I see.

Never mind, carry on.

Re:Noone gets it right (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18942165)

So basically, you ignore what someone wrote in a post, and then proceed to respond based on what you assume they posted.

I read Blizzard's Warcraft "lore". It didn't take long to figure out it really wasn't worth the bother. After which point I started ignoring it.

I'm going to make the wild leap to the conclusion that this is likely a good deal more than you can say for yourself about reading Tolkien's books.

Re:Noone gets it right (2, Interesting)

shinma (106792) | more than 7 years ago | (#18942507)

I read your post, and the simple, inescapable conclusion is that you are blatantly, by your own admission, ignoring what the Orcs and Trolls are in World of Warcraft in favor of an intertextual interpretation based on your own image of how things should be, because of your preference for the works of Tolkien.

That's fine, but arguing that the Horde is evil because you want them to be or because you disagree with Blizzard's execution or simply because you don't find it as well-written as another author's works is silly. World of Warcraft's story is Blizzard's to create. It is what it is, regardless of your preference that it were otherwise. If you don't like their choices, good on you. There are things I don't like about World of Warcraft, but I don't deny that they exist simply because I don't think that Blizzard's writers are as good as Tolkien or China Mieville or Mark Z. Danielewski, or Margaret Atwood, or Neil Gaiman, or Michael Moorcock, or any number of other wonderful writers out there.

And I've read most of Tolkien's work, including the Silmarillion. I wouldn't call them the holy gospel, but they're very good books. My biggest gripe is that Tolkien sometimes fell to digression and rambling in a way that made the story drag. But thanks for assuming.

Re:Noone gets it right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18942679)

I read your post, and the simple, inescapable conclusion is that you are blatantly, by your own admission, ignoring what the Orcs and Trolls are in World of Warcraft in favor of an intertextual interpretation based on your own image of how things should be, because of your preference for the works of Tolkien.
The problem is Blizzard's Warcraft "lore" doesn't even stay consistent with itself. No one, not even Blizzard knows "what the Orcs and Trolls are" in their games. The more people they have playing their games, the more PC and bland they make the story. Humans and Orcs in Warcraft were at first taken from Tolkien almost in entirety. But of course, now we want people to play Horde and still be able to feel good about themselves (because we just can't have people enjoying playing an "evil" side!!!11!!) so we'll change the story to fit whatever we want at the moment. Who knows, next year we might find out that the Alliance has been "thoroughly evil" all along, or perhaps we'll go back to the Horde being the total bad guys. Or (more likely) we'll just make it even more confusing and convoluted.

Re:Noone gets it right (1)

shinma (106792) | more than 7 years ago | (#18942873)

Since the Horde was formed in Warcraft III, it was never the "total bad guys," because it was already when we were getting to play the game from Thrall's point of view, and moral relativism had been introduced to the story. And the Orcs before that were under the influence of demonic masters. And no single faction can be considered the "good" guys so long as they tolerate warlocks in their ranks. Whether you can reconcile the changes and evolution of Azeroth throughout the games or not is up to you, and while it can affect your enjoyment of the game, it really doesn't change what the story is as it is presented at the current time. I wasn't arguing that the game line has been totally consistent, or whether it was even well written, but simply that defining the Horde as presented in World of Warcraft as evil is inaccurate.

By the way, the first Warcraft game wasn't based on Tolkien's work, it was based on Warhammer.

Re:Noone gets it right (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18941525)

The blood elves are... elves. The blood nights are the sith basically. Everyone else is to busy going "I need me some magic.." to be really evil.

Re:Noone gets it right (2, Insightful)

misleb (129952) | more than 7 years ago | (#18941073)

Trying to claim neither side is good or evil just waters down the game and makes it more bland and boring.

I couldn't disagree more. What is boring are simplistic labels like Good and Evil. Good is never good as seems on the surface and Evil always has its side to the story. I guess there is still room for the superficial battles between Good and Evil, but truely rich, engaging, insightful stories have a depth that is beyond good and evil. Sometimes it is more like "light" and "dark," but I think that is more a matter of personalities and not necessarily based on some religious sense of absolute good and evil. For example, someone might like morbid music and maybe prefer to spend their waking hours at nighttime. This person might have a dark personality. But it doesn't make them evil. Evil is as evil does, and Good is just as likely to do evil... in the real world, at least.


Re:Noone gets it right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18941533)

And with a comment like that, I can only assume that you've never read Tolkien and don't really know what you're talking about. Not trying to flame you, it's just honestly the way I see it. I really don't see how anyone could call Tolkien's "good" and "evil" labels "simplistic"; I find his fantasy world far more rich, engaging and insightful than anything Blizzard could ever come up with.

But it doesn't make them evil. Evil is as evil does, and Good is just as likely to do evil... in the real world, at least.
But that's the whole point of fantasy: to have things different from the real world. I deal with real people every day that are somewhat good and somewhat evil.

Re:Noone gets it right (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 7 years ago | (#18943637)

And with a comment like that, I can only assume that you've never read Tolkien and don't really know what you're talking about. Not trying to flame you, it's just honestly the way I see it. I really don't see how anyone could call Tolkien's "good" and "evil" labels "simplistic";

Insofar as it is about Good and Evil, it is rather simplistic... not to mention predictable. I mean, the good guy always wins in the end, right? There's a lot more going on in Tolkien than good vs. evil. And THAT is what is great about Tolkien. The Good vs. Evil theme is more a delivery agent for the other, more interesting, subjects. It gives the whole story a direction.. but it does not the story make.

I find his fantasy world far more rich, engaging and insightful than anything Blizzard could ever come up with.

WEll, it helps that there are specific books behind LotR that provide the richness and story. AFAIK, Blizzard just makes stuff up and the only real background you get is in cut scenes and whatever you happen to come across in the games. That can never compete with a book or even a goood movie for that matter.

But that's the whole point of fantasy: to have things different from the real world. I deal with real people every day that are somewhat good and somewhat evil.

There's different.. and then there's simplistic and predictable (e.g. good guy always overcomes a soulless evil). I think ultimately fantasy should reflect reality in very abstract and subtle ways.

For some examples of stories that go well beyond good and evil, read some Anne Rice novels. She very much gives a "face" to vampires. They're still blood sucking killers, but they're terribly conflicted and they have incredibly rich backgrounds such that you can even identify with them. Traditional fantasy does not allow much empathy with "evil" (with the exception of Smeagol, perhaps).


Re:Noone gets it right (4, Insightful)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 7 years ago | (#18941843)

In a lot of ways, World of Warcraft is a critique of the Tolkienesque ideas of good and evil. Tolkien might be said to combine a Christian metaphysics of good and evil with English cultural imperialism: for the most part, the heroes are the "Men of the West" while the villains are "swarthy," dark-skinned, uncivilized, etc.

Blizzard took this set-up and exposed it as being a reflection of European colonialism and imperialism. The Alliance is trying to "clean up" the land, getting rid of those cultures that don't resemble itself sufficiently. The result reveals just what the historical cultural origins of the traditional heroic fantasy categories of "good" and "evil" races really is - a veiled form of racism.

Re:Noone gets it right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18943367)

In a lot of ways, World of Warcraft is a critique of the Tolkienesque ideas of good and evil.
Which is precisely what makes it bland and uninspiring. It's not so much its own story as it is a "PC response" to someone else's story.

Tolkien might be said to combine a Christian metaphysics of good and evil

with English cultural imperialism: for the most part, the heroes are the "Men of the West" while the villains are "swarthy," dark-skinned, uncivilized, etc.
No. If you know anything about Tolkien's world, you'll know that all evil comes from Morgoth, who was the rebel god who broke away from the rest because he wanted to control everything, and then proceeded to try to destroy all the other gods did. (Definitely some Christian metaphysical overtones here.) But the color of the skin or civilization of the villains has absolutely nothing to do with it; there's nothing "racist" in the story. (If the evil races are less civilized, it's because Morgoth doesn't care about civilization or the good of his servants in the least, beyond how much it enables them to do what he wants done.) The villains are all those races who were created or seduced by Morgoth: they're villains because they've been created or seduced by "the dark side" and are trying to destroy or undo everything the good races are trying to accomplish. Where the nuance comes in is that the villainous races seduced by Morgoth (or his lackey Sauron) are not objectively evil in and of themselves; only their actions are. And at the same time, some of the good people inadvertently do themselves more harm than good while trying to do good, of which some prime examples are Isildur and Denethor.

Blizzard took this set-up and exposed it as being a reflection of European colonialism and imperialism. The Alliance is trying to "clean up" the land, getting rid of those cultures that don't resemble itself sufficiently. The result reveals just what the historical cultural origins of the traditional heroic fantasy categories of "good" and "evil" races really is - a veiled form of racism.
Right. Clearly you don't know anything about Tolkien's world. What Blizzard did was create some great games in a fantasy setting, and then as their games became popular because they were good, they tried to create a lore for their fantasy world to help keep the fans interested. But in trying to be much too PC their lore ends up being mostly useless instead.

Re:Noone gets it right (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 7 years ago | (#18942143)

Not really. In the previous Warcrafts the Orcs are insane with bloodlust from an external force (forgive me for not remembering the exact lore). The Orc that you play in WoW have broken free of that and are pretty nice (though a bit primitive). They rescued the trolls and the tauren from being whiped out from other agressors. Tauren are probably the nicest race in the game as they just really care about nature. Humans, on the other hand, burn with racism and are unable to see how the Orcs have broken free from their past. They are greedy opportunists that are a blend of both good and evil. Undead are flat out evil, I'll give you that...but it is more complex than good vs evil. This is true in the real world as well. Everything isn't black and white but varying shades of grey.

Re:Noone gets it right (1)

LordBafford (1087463) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939925)

During warcraft 2 and before orcs were inherently evil, but if you go through the warcraft3 series they turn out to not be all that bad. As with all races there are good and bad in each. In war3 at one point all the races worked together to defeat archimode at the world tree. so neither side is good or bad. The horde and the alliance just have different views on things and really Medivah( a Human) is to blame for the whole thing, opening the portal to the orcs home world. So if anything humans are evil. The biggest foe in the warcraft series is the burning legion and the scourge, which have caused untold destruction to both the alliance and horde. Which i think blizzard will eventually add in the game with cross faction battles where horde and alliance ally to conquer a common foe.

Re:Noone gets it right (1)

paitre (32242) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940803)

This honestly may be in the cards for the next expansion.

Wouldn't surprise me in the least, TBH.

Be -very- interesting to see how it were to play out on the RP AND RP-PVP servers.

Re:Noone gets it right (1)

jeffasselin (566598) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940845)

Having played through both sides, the matter is extremely complex. Both sides are an association of mismatched characters and groups that may have different agendas, some which are know, some which are hidden. The Tauren, for example, can be said to be the least corrupted/evil of all the races, yet one of the chief advisors of the Tauren chieftain is the clan leader of the Grimtotem clan who are in fact allied with the Twilight Hammer: an organisation attempting to bring back to Old Gods (Cthulhu-like, extremely evil primeval beings). He doesn't know that, but he's still being influenced.

The orcs were indeed evil from the time of the Severing (when Gul'dan severed their shamanistic ties to their old homeworld of Draenor) and drinking the blood of Mannoroth (a pit lord/demon) to the events of Lord of the Clans when Thrall managed to unite part of the horde which had not been corrupted and bring back shamanism to most of them. In WC3:ROC Thrall and Grom Hellscream killed Mannoroth and broke the blood curse. From that point on, the orcs have no inherent evil as the other humanoid races in Azeroth. Some have chosen to continue following the path of Evil but most of those are not members of the Horde. Some who are Thrall is monitoring closely and aware of them (he's the most open-eyed of the faction chieftains in my opinion).

A number of troll clans are indeed evil, but those that are members of the horde are not as such. You might not like their ethics, but they are mostly on the side of good. The matter of the Forsaken and Blood Elves is certainly more complex, but once again they are not evil per se.

On the alliance side, which people are used to think as "good", thinks aren't that rosy. Matters in the human kingdom of Stormwind especially are dire. Bandits rule the countryside while the army is away fighting the horde and the Burning Legion, following the nobles' refusal to pay the masons for the rebuilding of the Capital. A black dragon, of the brood of Neltharion (Deathwing) is one of the leaders of the faction, and is brainwashing the other main leader while the king has disappeared while on a diplomatic mission and hasn't been seen in years. His 4yr old son is sitting on the throne, manipulated by everyone. The Dwarves seem to be doing better, but their heir to the throne is a half-breed: part Mountain dwarf part Dark Iron dwarf, who serve the servant of the Old Gods, Ragnaros. The Night Elves' new home of Teldrassil having been planted without the blessing of the good dragons is slowly corrupting away, while their new Arch-Druid is a half-crazy maniac trying to take control of the faction from its current leader. The Alliance is not as overtly aggressive, but their blind hatred of different peoples and of the horde is locking them into a war with no meaning or purpose. The Forsaken want to be left alone, and the orcs ask nothing better. They're only fighting back for their own survival as the humans would exterminate them in a horrible genocide if they didn't. The Blood Elves were part of the alliance until some of its generals tried to use them in suicide missions - which they refused to do.

Re:Noone gets it right (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 7 years ago | (#18941467)

and really Medivh( a Human) is to blame for the whole thing, opening the portal to the orcs home world
Medivh himself may be human, but he was actually under the control of Sargeras (a very powerful Eredar/Demon) during that whole "Opening the Portal" thing. There are kinda hints during the Karazhan quest that hint that the "real" Medivh, the human trapped within, is actually a good guy.

Re:Noone gets it right (1)

LordBafford (1087463) | more than 7 years ago | (#18942257)

Yes more then likely, he did help thrall in the war3 campaigns. Overall though no race is total good or bad, they all have their scheming people.

Re:Noone gets it right (1)

tbannist (230135) | more than 7 years ago | (#18941051)

You misspelled "easy to ignore".

World events in WoW are designed to be entirely missable.

The downside of having an ending.... (5, Insightful)

GrnArmadillo (697378) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939593)

Unfortunately, the well-defined "end" to LOTR has resulted in the first licensed game I can think of where you can't actually go to most of the cool locations from the book (and movies, though Turbine doesn't have that particular license) because the plot hasn't advanced that far yet. They CAN'T expand into Mordor because once they do, that's Game Over. They can't expand to the White City or Rohan because that would make the game half over. They're not even adding the Mines of Moria during the game's first year of release (according to a recent dev chat), cause that would make the game 1/4 over.

The challenge for Turbine is that, with the "ending" (and so much about locations in the middle) already known, players want to actually get there sometime. That's a problem when your business model is, essentially, stalling the players for time as you continue to collect your monthly fees.

Re:The downside of having an ending.... (1)

TheVoice900 (467327) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939723)

They should use a model similar to that in the old BBS game Legend of the Red Dragon. Sure, the game wasn't really as story driven, but the point is that the story completed and someone won every few months or so and then it started again. Typically you had to start your players from scratch, but I suppose there's no reason there can't be several versions of the world with different difficulties so that you can keep advancing your character further each time you play. Since the story is already known, it doesn't matter that you play through it multiple times. And anyway, look at how many times people are willing to do boss runs or whatnot in WoW.

Re:The downside of having an ending.... (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939745)

One could argue that such places are not exclusively there for the heroes to visit. For example we know Rohan fought Orcs while not involved in the main conflict, purely because they kill Orcs. Why not add the area and then add stuff tto the area as the plot advances?

Start out with small scale orc patrol type quests, move onto word of strangers in the area, advance to them arriving and doing the whole kicking wormtongue out thing and then they pass on and the area can become harder (less riders around for obvious reasons) but remain true to cannon.

The mines are easier still. Large ass dungeon, full of goblins and loot, areas are blocked off by giant doors (hiding the Balrog) and make it an instance, so it still feels empty for example.

They could do it, they just want to milk it and watch people flee on mass.

Re:The downside of having an ending.... (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940197)

I think people will be fairly patient - they too know the closer you get to Mordor the closer the game will be to being over, so for the time being I think many people will be content to explore the areas as they become available.

An interesting part of the game is seeing aspects of the war unfold that were barely mentioned or just hinted at in the books, and right now I am content to explore that(though this may change.)

I am more interested in the war in lorien, mirkwood, the lonely mountain, the iron hills, umbar(?), etc... than Rohan and Gondor, because I do already know what the war was like there.

Re:Weak arguments (1)

Devir (671031) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940391)

They can have mordor, and the mines of Moria, and Rohan and all the other lovely cities and still keep to the story.

We dont know exactly when the mines were overrun (maybe it's in one of the books), we just know they were at some point within a few years. They could simply have the mines open with some quest to get inside. Key rooms should remain sealed to preserve the "books" timeline showing undisturbed bodies and the journal.

Rohan and the white city can all be in the books. You're questing during a time of an uneasy peace. Work for Wormtongue, unkowingly aiding Sarumon. There are so many directions you can take with these locations pre-trilogy. It was a troubled time and there was always a war going on.

Dont forget the time frame the Hobbit took place. That, in itself was a huge area and took place roughly 50 years prior to Fellowship. There were huge epic battles in the Hobbit's timeline and chances are there were many in between.

Turbine has quite a bit to work with. Many locations (Tom Bombadil's moore mounds) and vast settings. To put middle Earth into a game is great if they can do it right, and creatively. There are tons of weird monsters, and there can be many "undiscovered" things that the books never mentioned.

The Fellowship, and Bilbo before them, only took a path of least resistance. The other paths can be rife with dangers and adventures. I'm excited thinking of all the alternative locations.

Re:Weak arguments (1)

Charlie4 (959258) | more than 7 years ago | (#18941381)

I agree- This is the first real, playable Middle Earth we've ever seen, next to Lord of the Rings monopoly. I have been so many cool places that were either not or barely referenced in the books/movies. I am enjoying this far more than WoW, and the idea that all players are on the good side is awesome in my view as well.


Re:The downside of having an ending.... (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18941775)

That sounds like a horrible idea. Isn't it kinda pointless to play that game when it has a definite progression that leads to your victory and is not influenced by any action you take? Sure, you can see the world, meet exciting creatures and kill them but then it makes no sense for your accessible areas to be tied to some storyline. What kind of roleplaying is that supposed to be? "Oh, hey, I can't do anything to further the story so I'll just mash some orcs until the ring is officially dropped into Mount Doom". Isn't the only sane reason for a story that unfolds in real time to make it react to player actions? E.g. noone defended Helm's Deep so that area is controlled by Mordor now, some player army overwhelmed Saruman's forces before reinforcements arrived or the Ring fell into the hands of... uh... evil dude again?

Re:The downside of having an ending.... (1)

BarneyL (578636) | more than 7 years ago | (#18942521)

You are of course acting like the entirety of Middle Earth vanished the moment the ring hit the lava (apologies for the spoiler).
But we already know that the shire needed to be set in order and I imagine if Turbine wanted there could be years of further content fighting bands of orc led by remainging ring wraiths for example.

Sagely words (2, Insightful)

navygeek (1044768) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939633)

True, there's an ending and we know what it is. But it's not so much the destination as the path we follow, right or wrong.

To put it another way, and to quote a very fine show -

BOOK: 'Cause how you get there is the worthier part'

Re:Sagely words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18940155)

Endings are important in games, I think. The only way to have a meaningful journey is to have a starting point and an ending point, and perhaps a little motivation to get things done. The biggest problem I have with 'mainstream' MMOs is the fact that there is no end. The game will continue indefinately, and to me, that cheapens the experience. Given a long enough timeline, everone can do everything; none of your accomplishments are actually meaningful in the context of the game.

The MMO I play currently breaks that paradigm. A Tale In The Desert [] by a small company called eGenesis (its been mentioned on /. before, I think) has a limited timeline of about 2-2.5 years, depending on both the players' and the developers' input. It does not have a defined ending, but the players can either win or lose. It gives you a limited timeframe to work on your personal goals. It gives meaning to your actions within the context of the game - not necessarily will everybody be able to accomplish what you just did. Its possible that some of your accomplishments may be entirely unique - nobody else in the game managed to do what you did. This, to me, holds a lot more appeal than being player #1,343,346 to kill whatever uberboss in whatever top level instance.

Kind of like star wars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18939653)

Right, because Star Wars Online was also based in a world without a pre-developed ending.

The whole point.. (2, Interesting)

LordBafford (1087463) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939719)

Isn't the whole point of a company making an MMORPG to not have a ending? I mean if they want to rack in the cash, why would they ever think of making an ending to their game? Like WoW they just keep adding new areas to give more quests to make more cash. The only possible ending for WoW would be that they open up northernd and you have to kill Arthas on on the frozen throne. That is where warcraft 3 left off was evil technically winning. So knowing the end is ok but it's better to not have one if you want to make money.

Re:The whole point.. (1)

shaka999 (335100) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940549)

Why can't an MMORPG have an ending? Thats a pretty narrow definition. Most RPG's have endings. How does adding the "Massive Multi-Player Online" to that suddenly change anything? I agree that in some ways it doesn't make the best business sense but I do like the idea of a strong story and a strong story has an ending.

Granted I'm not one who is going to invest years of my life into a game so I don't really care if they try and milk an idea for every last cent.

Re:The whole point.. (1)

LordBafford (1087463) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940627)

i agree, i like endings too that tie together all that time playing. But yes it is bad business to end a monthly payment game. Unless it has been like 10 years and the company is ready to push out a new game or something. All companies see though is the $$$$$$$ they just make the game interesting enough to keep you playing.

Re:The whole point.. (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940831)

I don't know if they actually need to end the game - Frodo could become perpetually lost in Mordor. The events immediately prior to the destruction of the ring could be a good ending to the main storyline, but the quests could continue as the war rages over all of middle earth. You would come more concerned at fighting the War of the Ring and holding back the tide so that Frodo could someday finish the main quest, but there could be thousands of quests all over middle earth coinciding with the war effort.

Re:The whole point.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18942441)

I'd never given it much thought, but I actually like the idea of having an ending at some point too. For example, when a TV show that's been running for a while gets canceled, (or they decide to end the storyline a la X-files or SG-1), usually you get a finale. So many of these MMO's just fade into oblivion...

I think it'd be kinda neat - when they eventually decide, in a few years, to wrap up WoW because it's no longer making this kind of money, or they've got a new MMO to sell, or the graphics are too dated, etc., if they would have some kind of "end-of-story" event. After this event the game is, 'over'. The end. It would wrap up the MMO in a nice package, and open them up for doing WoW II or whatever, and would let WoW end happily, without letting WoW die a slow painful MMO death.

Re:The whole point.. (1)

LordBafford (1087463) | more than 7 years ago | (#18942885)

That's basically what I think blizzard will do with a cross faction battle against Arthas at the frozen throne. When the time comes that WoW is not making the profit they want or it is just getting old, they will make Arthas as a final world boss that units all factions as a global raid type deal and out side raid boss that require the cooperation of everyone to defeat in an epic battle finale.

Re:The whole point.. (3, Informative)

Rhys (96510) | more than 7 years ago | (#18941061)

Everyone keeps bringing this up as a point "they just want to keep you hooked and paying."

I'm not sure that's the case with LOTRO. The $199 lifetime membership, while steep, has to be a break-even point for Turbine. The other pre-order option is a $10/month lifetime rate, which lets you calculate that at $199 they expect you to play for about 20 months over the lifetime of the game. They've already built in an end to the game. The fact they give a lifetime membership tells you that much. If they are really smart, they're going to run the MMO through the story of ME, and then close it down shortly after the war.

Given a usual rate of expansions (free or paid), you can estimate the story will finish in 3-5 years. In which time the graphics will have started looking fairly dated. Either they'd have to go back and refresh them (lots of art and dev time)... or they could be in their twilight and say, "story's about to be over folks, we're not doing that sorry! But look at our next project: B5 Online!"

It'll be interesting to see how it plays out. Especially given this is Turbine aka "exploit early, exploit often." They've had one semi-successful games and two flops, one of which closed just after three years.

Re:The whole point.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18941427)

There is nothing that says they can't restart the game after completion. I know of at least one MMOG that has a global reset every 4-6 months. Its been running fine for years.

For all it's flaws? (2, Informative)

fr175 (999487) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939739)

I find LOTRO to be nearly flawless when compared to other MMOs. LOTRO had about as smooth a launch as one could hope for and put other MMOs to shame in this regard. Also, allowing characters to transfer from Beta to Live, and discounted pricing for pre-orders, is a welcome "innovation."

The Epic quest series, which follows the hobbits progress in the books, is amazing. The scripted story events are highly immersive and impressive.

Sure, the economy could use some work, and other tweaks can be made. But, a more polished MMO I have not seen on launch, and the potential for expansion is huge.

Re:For all it's flaws? (3, Insightful)

Hydian (904114) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940581)

I find LOTRO to be nearly flawless when compared to other MMOs. LOTRO had about as smooth a launch as one could hope for and put other MMOs to shame in this regard. Also, allowing characters to transfer from Beta to Live, and discounted pricing for pre-orders, is a welcome "innovation."
This is Turbine's 4th MMORPG release, so you would think that they'd be able to manage a launch by now. Allowing preorders to get into the game early (which is not really allowing beta characters to transfer over to live) and pre order discounts is hardly innovative as that has been done for quite a while now.

As far as flaws go, it certainly isn't flawless. Don't get me wrong, the game has great stories and is awesome in a lot of ways. It's obvious that they let DDO flounder in order to devote more resources to making this game as deep and rich as it is. That said, the combat system leaves a lot to be desired and is a step backwards from most other MMORPGs IMHO. It's come a long way since alpha, but it still annoys me too much for me to actually play post release. The crafting stuff obviously still needs work as does the economy, but they are tweaking those and should have them balanced out a lot better pretty quickly.

Overall the game is pretty good, but certainly not anywhere near flawless.

The Road Goes Ever On and On (5, Insightful)

DLG (14172) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939815)

As a preface, I spent some 10 years as an administrator at a LOTR based MUSH. With a time ratio of 3:1 It meant 3 years in Middle Earth (ME) went by in 1 year of real life. For you hobbits, that means that you give a birthday party every 4 months. Having started to play just a few years before the third age yr 3000, there was little real concern about what would happen in the 5 or so years when we had to actually stage the War of the Ring. Original founders had not really considered this an issue as the point was to create an environment for RP in the Tolkien world, not to play out the script of the books. However there was always some pressure from various philosophies of role play and game play in general, on whether we should in some way develop the long term story arc and whether to allow deviations from the general thread of events. This becomes pretty complicated as Tolkien had a sort of longer story arc than most, with events that occurred thousands of years before, in books some of the players had never read, having some impact. In fact, the more a player knew, and cared about Tolkien, the harder it was to play the game, knowing that on the one hand they might realisticly play their characters role, and on the other hand, they might run into situations where quality role play and story making conflicted with the actual plot in ways that only an expert might detect ahead of time.

This meant the typical uses of comic book/soap opera/RP retcon techniques (retroactive continuity...) which, ill used, creates a hostility so fierce that the term retcon in the MUSH gained the status of fighting words, i.e., if you did not intend to cause someone to freak out and begin an anti-fascist march at your home, you said things like 'we might want to adjust the outcome to match the theme a little more closely, and perhaps there is some backstory we could RP out to clarify why your character suddenly had to NOT slay Boromir as a 12 year old for kissing your pig. (That never happened... Or did it! Retcon!)

Anyway, the point is that, there were legitimate arguments to let things play out as if we got to year 3000 and let things diverge. There were others that said, lets get to year 3008 or so and then freeze until we figure things out, allowing the game clock to advance but maintaining the pre LOTR environment. Others wanted to move towards a sort of scripted version of the war, but of course focus also on the places that were not described, to explore how such a big event effected the other populations. (Places mentioned in a sentence have a whole life when you have 2000+ active players trying to play their favorite characters)

As an admin, alot of my effort was aimed towards providing guidance in resolving conflicts both operationally and thematically.

Now LOTR Online is not a MUSH. Players do not drive the content the same way. Most folks just want to see the sights and participate in the battles, and get that Tolkien feel. But the fact is that I won't be playing this game, having spent a decade of my life trying to combine fun, Tolkien, role play, and computers. I will never be real happy watching hordes of hobbits wandering around, making Frodo and Bilbo seem like homebodies, nor will Noldo elves dancing topless on mailboxes make me happy.

I prefer original works of fantasy. I love to read Tolkien. I first read the hobbit when I was 6, and was done with all the books (including Silmarilian which had just recently come out in soft cover) by the time I was 8.

I am glad more people are buying the books, and are excited by what I consider some of the greatest examples of story telling and most graceful uses of the English language. But to claim that knowing what will happen makes a game more playable, or that such an idea is new, is really quite absurd. There have been 100's of games in which we know the story. And if you really expect LOTR online to END for plot purposes, rather than because they are no longer making money, you are in the gardens of Lorien, dreaming away.

Re:The Road Goes Ever On and On (2, Interesting)

Bodrius (191265) | more than 7 years ago | (#18941473)

I'd like to say I'm shocked and surprised at your tale, and hope that you're just too jaded by past experiences to give the game an honest chance.

But I have to admit, that Boromir always seemed a bit shifty to me.

I wouldn't be surprised if pig-related incidents happen again on LOTR online.

An ending? WHAT?!! (1)

SighKoPath (956085) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940077)

Come on, the destruction of the ring is NOT the ending of the story! Look at what happened after the ring was destroyed: Hobbits go home, and find the Shire enslaved! Just because Sauron is gone doesn't mean that there is nothing else to do. New enemies come and go. Really, the destruction of the ring is merely the end of the Third Age. Fourth age begins. Once you get there, you have a HUGE world to add all sorts of fun stories to.

Re:An ending? WHAT?!! (3, Insightful)

DuckDodgers (541817) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940457)

The problem with that in the setting is that the Fourth Age is the age of man. The elder elves head across the sea. The wizards are gone (although if you read the Silmarillion, some of the other wizards are still out there somewhere). The rings of power that survived are powerless.

Tolkien's books have the really cool events in the ancient past, the moderately cool events in the distant past, the last little footnotes to the story happen in [i]The Hobbit[/i] and [i]The Lord of the Rings[/i], and everything gets really boring afterwards.

I think anyone writing a Middle Earth MMORPG should toss that out the window - invent lieutenants of Melkior and new species that remained hidden. Invent new rules for regular humans to master the magic of Gandalf or Saruman. Basically Dungeons and Dragons'ify Middle Earth for the sake of making the game interesting. But I bet millions of diehard fans would call it blasphemy.

Re:An ending? WHAT?!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18941597)

Sauron is dead. I slayed him with my priest in the 100th level of the Angband dungeon.

Sorry guys, I got their first.

WoW Story (1)

wooden pickle (1006975) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940181)

I would say that the story in WoW is pretty front and center. Yeah, there are a heck of a lot of people who pay little attention to it, but it's there and everywhere. Major characters from the previous games appear and get offed (truly dead or not, who knows). We just don't know what the end of that story is yet. I suspect the Blizzard lore folks don't completely know themselves, but they've probably got a good idea at a high level.

Re:WoW Story (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18940705)

Plots centered around a video game are often left open-ended for a reason.

The story in WoW is there if you actually read the text for the quests you do. There is an explanation for why Blood Elf players would want to kill Prince Kael'thas (and it isn't because he drops epics) in the quests, but most players simply focus on the quest rewards. TBC quests based around Akama set the stage for Illidan's downfall (at the hands of the players).

The only problem is that the major lore villians that get killed will likely only be killed by top end players because they are tucked away in raid instances that are too difficult / involved for the average person. However, the fact is that the story is there and pretty focal, even if most players don't care.

Of course, the players not caring so much allows Blizzard to get away with some pretty heavy retcons... reworking part of the plot so that it fits in with the gameplay better.

At some point WoW will reach the end of it's life and there will be no more expansions. Eventually a newer, better MMO will come out that will actually be better. A likely end to the WoW story itself will be defeating Arthas in Northrend. Though there are plenty of other enemies that Blizzard could throw at players if WoW remains popular after that.

After WoW, new Warcraft RTS or MMO could be made which is set many years after the end of WoW that continues the Warcraft story to some point. ...

LOTR is not open ended. And the problem is that people who would play LOTR online over WoW quite possibly care about the LOTR story very much and there might be huge player complaint for violations of canon. The very hard core ones have read the Silmarillion, and just about every unfinished piece that was edited and then published after Tolkien's death. I've seen hard core LOTR lore fans, and they will simply go ballistic if a game violates any of that lore.

Thus, your character is forced to be a bit player. Defeating a major lore villian would be a massive violation of canon. You can't raid the Balrog of Moria, the Nazgul, Shelob, Sauruman or Sauron for loot. These are challenges for the main characters of the story. At best you can be a nameless soldier fighting nameless enemies as part of one of the major battles from the books.

Post-Sauron gameplay (1)

charlesbakerharris (623282) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940217)

Just think - if they really stick to the story, after you defeat Sauron and save the world from darkness, you get to go back to the shire and gank a bunch of low-level humanoids, plus a wizard who's been stripped of his power.

Anticlimactic much?

Not quite.. (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940551)

"There is no logical end to WoW, where the evil WoW faction of the Horde is victorious, and every member of the good-aligned Alliance dies."

The Horde is actually only trying to survive, they only defend themselves from the Alliance.

The Alliance is full of evil people who are trying to gain more power, at any cost, and they brought the Demons into the world to begin with.

Which world? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18941471)

If you mean Azeroth, sure.

Draenor? It was the Orcs who brought the demons there.

I'd also hardly call the Forsaken Plague Research Department "defensive".

Yes, actually. The cat does got my tongue. (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940625)

> The argument here is that a game in which the outcome is known is fundamentally
> a different (and possibly better) form of gameplay than that the current rage of
> emergent-gameplay sandbox weak storied games. A challenging idea.

I should like to point out the only reason this is true is because the gods cheat.

Lord British: Dead
The Sleeper: Dead

As long as the game mechanics allow it, people will figure out a way to do it. Hence the only reason good will win is because good will cheat.

And this isn't the first time. Star Wars Galaxies also has a destiny, though I have no idea if anyone has killed Darth Vader or Luke (to say nothing of Wedge), but is that because they're tough or because the game cheats making them not attackable?

MMO with an ending (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18940829)

One MMO that I play frequently is ATITD, or A Tale In The Desert. Sort of like Civilization, with building, exploring, politics, and no combat.

One of the more interesting aspects is that this is actually ATITD 3. Each game is designed with an ending in mind. So each iteration, called a 'telling', goes from the empty desert to the end-game where monuments are constructed.

The game doesn't have all the heavy action such as MMORPGs, but it's different, and has some interesting design choices to look at. Such as the endgame. Starting out, everyone is equal (aside from insider knowledge from betas and previous tales). As the game progresses, you have a spread between casuals and power-gamers, doing the ingame tests, learning the tricks of the telling, and handling some of the events that are run. At the end, everyone tries to build those monuments, hopefully affecting the next telling.

The mid-game, that of the spread, is always a problem. New technologies are unlocked which are out of the reach of the casuals to dabble with, and the power-gamers get bored because the content can't keep up with them. That happens with a lot of MMO's. The difference is, with an established ending, you get a reboot to restart everyone. Some people will balk at losing their Uber-l33t characters, but the recreation of the game, with tweaks, allows for a mostly-new experience for all.

Just the article snippet (1)

Hydrophobia (954418) | more than 7 years ago | (#18941251)

The article writer doesn't even know the story of WoW. The horde are not evil, neither are the alliance good.

Another "destiny locked" game: (1)

mikeasu (1025283) | more than 7 years ago | (#18941437)

What about A Tale in the Desert (ATITD)? Explained from the start, the game was to run for what was it, 9 months to a year in real time - called the First Telling. After a coupel months, everything starts over from the beginning in the 2nd Telling, with some engine changes I think, some gameplay changes (I only played for a short while in the first telling). I think they're on the Third Telling now. Any ATITD players have more insight?

Re:Another "destiny locked" game: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18943129)

ATITD isn't destiny-locked in the same way. The devs add stuff to the game as they go, following a presumedable storyline that only they know. When the current instance began, for example, there was a giant barren spot in the NW with a big wall around it and some altars. Then one day, more altars appeared, stuff showed up inside the walls; now you can enter the area. A lot of things change according to a predetermined series of events, but since you don't know those events, you can't run into the same issues.

You can't kill the proverbial Frodo because even if you did something that should have rewritten the preordained future, nobody will know since the devs will just roll with it (or cause merciless punishment to follow you like locusts).

Killing Arthas is very close to the 'end of wow' (1)

stovey (698291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18941441)

Much of WoW's story is riding on the popularity of Warcraft's pre-existing story and extending on that, and it still is to this day. The next two raid instances are based on non-new material. Illiad and the recreation of "The Battle of Mount Hyjal", a very lore heavy stage from Warcraft III. The 2 current high end bosses, are again, pre-existing characters prior to WoW. Kael'thas Sunstrider and Lady Vashj.

There is some new figures and faces, but many are more oohh-ahhh, rather than notable figures worth remembering past this expansion. I foresee this remaining the same till we get to kill 'Arthas'. Which I do believe will be the beginning of the end of the World of Warcraft (not a bad thing, and still a ways off).

Is an ending really a bad thing? (1)

edawstwin (242027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18941861)

Why should an ending in an MMO be a bad thing? I think it would be interesting. I don't know how the "ending" of LOTR is planned (so if what I am saying is what they're planning, kudos to them), but here's an idea: Guilds fight to be the first one to destroy the ring. It could take months, years, whatever (and maybe individual servers would have different timelines based on how long the players want it to take), but the ultimate goal of the game could be to destroy the ring. This would certainly motivate competition and guilds would split and combine based on their perceived chances. You could even have guilds on PvP servers (do they have PvP severs?) trying to stop other guilds from succeeding.

When the ring is destroyed, the server "resets" and we start again, now knowing alot more than when we first played. I would consider playing the game if this were the direction the game was headed.

Re:Is an ending really a bad thing? (1)

mikeasu (1025283) | more than 7 years ago | (#18942829)

When the ring is destroyed, the server "resets" and we start again, now knowing alot more than when we first played. I would consider playing the game if this were the direction the game was headed.
Good point - let's go one step further. What if there was the possibility, at the end, of failure. Maybe Frodo puts on the ring, Gollum doesn't succeed in biting off his finger, and ultimately, Sauron gets the ring. Everybody loses. Server reset for the next iteration. Of course, that brings PvP to another level. Naturally, you'll have the players that WANT Sauron to win...Asheron's Call has some server wide events - actually across all servers, where players had to go pvp to release the major Sauron-like antagonist (been too long, forgot the name) - players went pvp to either fight to free the evil one, or keep him locked up. IF I'm recalling correctly, all the servers freed the guy, except one, where the defenders were keeping up a 24 hour defense - it raised the question of, given player-driven events, could a "storyline" unfold differently on different servers? Ultimately, (I think admins had to come in to help), the evil one was released and the storyline moved on.

"Evil" Horde? (2, Insightful)

jgoemat (565882) | more than 7 years ago | (#18941975)

The Tauren live a peaceful existence in tune with nature. The current orc ruler Thrall was enslaved as a child by humans and forced to fight gladiator-style battles by his captors until freed. The undead are a group that freed themselves from control by the scourge and merely attempt to survive against the "Alliance" that would do them harm. The trolls ruled an empire until the Night Elves delved into destructive magic and destroyed it, luring the Burning Legion to Azeroth in the process. The high elves created a kingdom on the sacred ground of the trolls, and the trolls would have reclaimed it if not for the aid of the humans.

The original orcs that came to Azeroth (with the help of a human named Medivh) were corrupted, but what makes you call the current members of the Horde evil?

Re:"Evil" Horde? (2, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 7 years ago | (#18943479)

The fact that they gank me until the cows come home in STV and Outlands. I couldn't care less about their backstory. Their actions, on the other hand, are pure evil. Well, enough horde is like that to warrant their destruction. So I kill on sight. Wait, what - horde says that's what makes Alliance evil?

I think we have just identified the root cause of the problem. People are, on average, assholes.

the ePeen factor (1)

Silentknyght (1042778) | more than 7 years ago | (#18942351)

Most people would agree that an MMO developer wants extended play to continue to gain the monthly revenue. Most people would also agree that a definitive "ending" to an MMO is likely to coincide with the termination of most or all of the aforementioned monthly revenue.

What draws many people to an MMO is the ePeen, competitive factor. They like to see their character grow in power, and succeed beyond others. They like to tally their victories, accomplishments, and loot. Most people would be deterred from a "definitive ending & startover" kind of game, if it meant the loss of all that they had earned. However, a game could have a definitive ending, reset, and start over and still be successful, if it provides a suitable avenue by which the player (and perhaps others) can view their past, completed characters and characters' accomplishments in glorious detail.

Re:the ePeen factor (1)

LordBafford (1087463) | more than 7 years ago | (#18943035)

Diablo 2, also made by Blizzard, is like this, you can get to lvl 99 but u only have 5 acts and 3 difficulties in it. after a certain about of time. Blizzard will reset the ladder and your current ladder characters get moved to the non-ladder side of online play and then you cna create new characters to ladder again with.

Re:the ePeen factor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18943741)

Learn how to spell the word "you", moron.

Re:the ePeen factor (1)

Fozzyuw (950608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18944405)

What draws many people to an MMO is the ePeen, competitive factor.

I agree with you about the ePeen thing in a round-about sort of way. I believe the real draw of MMO's is either 1) Collection/Progression or 2) Social.

The 'collector' is the person who likes to 'finish' everything. They might have collected sports cards, action figures, or comic books as kids (or perhaps still do as adults). MMO's draw their eye because they can 'collect' things. It's also a sense of progression. Your character can get 5 pieces of an armour set. Every piece you collect gives them a sense of progression. What was one is now two, what was two is now three and that's one more piece to 'the end' of a 'set' or 'collection'.

Social are the people who enjoy playing games with others. 1-player games where never exciting. It was the +2-player games that they would always buy and invite friends over to hang-out and do things.

Either case, the person has to enjoy video games and RPG style games as that. It's also the 'collector' who the 'ePeen' factor can be seen. One of the motivations of 'collectors' are to show others they have something they believe will draw the envy of others. Have the #1 print limited edition comic book, Mint Condition Michael Jordon or Barry Sanders rookie card or the 0.001% chance to drop 'Sword of 1000 Truths' is to show others that you have it and not them. Of course, some people will see it as an investment as items in real-life can be re-sold. In MMO's it's either the 'ePeen' or the 'progression' factor that will make a person 'want' said item.

Of course, it's not a black and white case. A person can have both social and collectible desires and to varying degrees.

Although, there is a 3rd degree as well, what use to be more niche is becoming more main-stream. It's the 'Competitive' kind of people you mention, which also can include the 'ePeen'. These are the PvP sort of people. They're the people who play primarily for competition.


Guild Wars has a definite storyline and works (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18942615)

I would like to point out that Guild Wars has a definite storyline with a definite ending too. That doesn't mean there isn't still plenty to do after the end of the main storyline. But it is evidence that a MMORPG can have a distinct storyline and still have the fun of side-quests, guild battles, group raids, new content, etc. Just because a game is massive, multi-player, online, and an RPG doesn't mean it has to be a complete sandbox.

I don't care (1)

ZirbMonkey (999495) | more than 7 years ago | (#18943791)

I've never cared about the story line of a game too much, as long as it's fun to play.

Mario, space invaders, sonic... They all had incredibly ridiculous story lines (if you even want to call them storie lines). The early days of gaming didn't care a whole lot about writing a dramatic plaot line, when all that mattered was smashing buttons. It's only recently that games like Metroid or Sonic started developing complicated plot lines within the games

Guitar Hero has no story line, but that's a kickass fun game to play. What about DDR? What about pinball or billiards?

Aside from that... I happen to like playing WoW because it looks great, I love doing instances with my guild, and the combat system is easy to use. If anyone finds those elements in any MMORPG, then people will play it and stick around. The story line is seriously the last thing people care about in a game. Top of the list: "is it fun to play?"

Middle Earth Keeps going after the book ends... (1)

Sinnix (898301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18944201)

Just because the story of Lord of the Rings ends, doesn't mean that the virtual world has to. It isn't as if the book ended with: "Sam took Rosy on his lap and suddenly the world exploded and everyone died." Or they could go back in time and fight the original war of the ring. Bottom line, if the game is successful they'll find a way to keep it moving.
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