Having spent the week in Toronto for work-related training, I’m just now catching up on all of the inevitable crises that took place in my absence. While I enjoy traveling (when I can drive to my destination) and this particular trip was of great value to me in my current profession, the aftermath almost always makes it more of a hassle than it’s really worth. Even with a laptop and remote access to nearly everything I need to do my job, so much of what I do from day to day requires a physical presence. Ironic considering I work in a field notorious for disconnecting themselves from ‘meatspace’. Also, by the end of a full day of technical training, the last thing I want to do is more work. I just don’t have it in me.
So to take the edge off being away from my family, I take advantage of my solo status and generally devote as many off-hours as possible to gaming. I know, lame excuse for binging on LotRO, but it’s all I’ve got, and as I’m required to be away, I might as well make the most of it. As I lack a decent gaming laptop, I tend to stick to my alts; I’ve already experienced 99% of the content and have “seen the sights” in the highest quality I can, so it’s really about the mechanics of the class.
I was determined to really buckle down and make some progress on characters I’ve left lingering in the mid 20s and 30s. Just a few months ago, I was lamenting a complete and utter lack of motivation to level my alts because, knowing where I was headed, I just couldn’t bring myself to grind up to, and then through, the content. I figured this ennui was a symptom of Moria-overload and of the deed and reputation grinds; having done them once I really don’t want to do them again (come on Turbine, where are my account-based deeds?).
Trouble is, Turbine has done part of their job too well. Playing some of the classes can be a vastly different experience and makes good portions of the content “new” just by virtue of running through it again with a second (or third) class. And I truly enjoy some of the other classes. Hunter, Minstrel, and Warden are my top three second-string classes and I find them truly fun and refreshing to play. Burglars will always be my one, true love, but one cannot live on lembas alone. And I’d really like to see some of the endgame with a class other than my main.
So I figured I’d take one on the nose, dive right in, and get to leveling. I determined that I wanted to get two of my alts to 40 during my time away, and as two of them were already in their mid-30s, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem, right?
Wrong. But not for the reasons I thought.
All this time I thought it was something about LotRO that kept me away from my alts, when the truth is – <cue dramatic revelation music> – it’s me. Well, partly me. More me than I had originally thought. Honestly, no matter how you look at it, it comes down to my tastes and preferences, both in how I play LotRO and in the fact that I choose to play other games from time to time, that keep me from playing enough to level multiple characters to the cap. I liked Moria well enough, but I didn’t like it enough to want to revisit. There are plenty of players who still enjoy Moria (I think…). Sure, there are aspects of the game that I have trouble stomaching (slayer deeds and reputation grinding), but overall Turbine built their game and created their content and put it out there for customers to purchase and enjoy, or not. And I do enjoy it, and give them my money for it; but I enjoy other games as well.
I say this because not only did I fail to level my two alts to 40, I failed to level one past 38. Instead of burning through quests with my Hunter, I found myself finishing out exploration deeds and taking the time, again, to read quest text and harvest resource nodes and, yes, finish slayer deeds. For shame!
What I learned is that it’s not entirely that Turbine has created a game that makes it impossible for me to have alts. Rather it’s my playstyle that prevents me from maintaining multiple characters at the level cap. Realistically, it barely allows me to keep one at the level cap. I’m a Completionist and a Sightseer; these are not habits conducive to quickly consuming content. Even using Syp’s technique for selecting virtues in advance and only completing the deeds that grant those bonuses didn’t keep me from trying to get everything done in Evendim, where I spent the bulk of my time.
Not that there isn’t room for Turbine to improve, especially in the grind-one-monster-into-extinction department, but with the move to Free To Try, what’s the chance of them eliminating any grind? Not much. So I’ve realized I owe Turbine an apology.
Sorry, Turbine. It’s not you (not really). It’s me.