Tag Archives: F2P

Thoughts for the Day

Gah! Seems like every time Real Life decides to get extraordinarily busy (as if I could post any less recently), the MMO industry decides to throw a party and get the ‘sphere all a-flutter.

Age of Conan

I blame Turbine, really. They made the switch twice – once for a failing game that pulled it back from the brink of closure into a realm of respectably-sized piles of gold coins, and once for a game that wasn’t failing because, well, we-can’t-just-leave-well-enough-alone-can-we-and-look-how-well-it-worked-for-that-other-one-we’ll-be-drowning-in-our-piles-of-money. The thing is, for however I feel about Turbine’s business decisions (take a wild guess), they got the F2P/hybrid model pretty much right. No matter how hard they toe the line between appropriate items in their Store and handicapping non-paying players, they have yet to really push into pay-to-win territory. I don’t like some of their decisions, but I also can’t point at any one item and say, “That’s just wrong.”

However, Unrated is not LotRO, and the model Funcom has chosen is just not good. It’s a sad rehash of Sony’s EQ2X, where the access tiers are just convoluted and too much of the game is walled off from the “freeloaders” (because that’s how you’re treating your potential customers, Funcom). If you look at the breakdown between Free and Premium accounts, it’s a little ridiculous. Two-thirds of the classes (and the most interesting ones at that!) are unavailable and great portions of the group content are walled away. And time-based passes to access dungeons? Really? Wow.

The thing about being Free to Play is that either you really go for it or you forget about it. Going halfway is really just nickel-and-diming your players, and we know it! As much as it pains me to say it sometimes, Turbine really has it right in the Cash Shop model – convenience items, cosmetics, and zones of side-quest content. That’s why the model works for LotRO – there’s always a central storyline to which everyone has access, from The Shire to Moria to Enedwaith. Age of Conan might have that, but I have to agree with Keen – going Free to Play doesn’t necessarily make AoC a game worth playing; I might check it out to get to the areas I never saw, but it’s certainly not worth putting money into. The restrictive model they’ve outlined only accomplishes two things – it alienates the players who might have considered paying for something, and it exploits the players who aren’t educated enough to know better. Neither is good business.

Burglar Changes

Orion posted a list of proposed changes to the Burglar and Warden classes yesterday. I won’t pretend to know enough about Wardens to comment. Burglar, on the other hand, is my one-and-only!

Overall, I like the changes. Here goes:

  • Removing some of our highest tier skills from the critical response chain certainly opens up some moment-to-moment options for us and will help with Power management as we don’t have to burn through a handful of other skills just to get to them.
  • Being able to toggle our “stances” (for lack of a better term) after defeat is HUGE. I understand not wanting Burglars to be able to flip back and forth during combat, but losing your stance after death in a group scenario is a major disadvantage. It means not burning Hide in Plain Sight just on the off chance that I might need it to get back into Mischief. So in reality this change frees up multiple skills, at least when playing in groups.
  • The consolidation for Seize Initiative and Escape Clause is nice, but not particularly thrilling. I don’t use either much. It’ll be nice to have another space on my hotbars, though!
  • Adding a 100% chance to Surprise Strike from stealth is a really nice change. Again, it’s more flexibility as I don’t have to save Aim up “just in case”.
  • Subtle Stab ticking off the cooldown timer for Mischievous Glee is great! It somehow “fits” in my mind with the tone of the class and the lore. I can just imagine my Burglar slipping through an Orc’s defenses, getting in a solid hit, and giggling the whole time! And it will greatly aid in survivability.

The last details – Riddle not breaking stealth and it working on all creatures – are the most jarring, and disappointing, changes proposed. I don’t PvMP much, but this could be a huge change to the battlefield in the Moors. More than anything, however, the proposed changes are just too drastic for an aspect of the class that I consider to be fundamental, both in how it plays and in how it fits into the lore. I’ve always thought that Turbine did a great job of building a familiar yet unique set of classes that fit well with the lore (every class being inspired by one of the key characters of the stories), and thought that they really hit the ball out of the park with the Burglar.

But making Riddle so much more…generic…just hurts. It’s a big stretch to the lore, which is important to me. And it robs us of the need to be more strategic in our solo and group play. Sure, many other players don’t understand or appreciate the Burglar, or see it’s usefulness in a group setting. But those that do understand all too well how much of a difference a good Burglar can make.I guess I understand Turbine’s motivation – making it more generally useful and desirable as a member of Fellowships – but it’s just not going in the right direction. If there is a need to expand the Crowd Control functions of the Burglar, at least find a way to do it that makes sense in the lore, instead of just stating “it works on everything now…have fun!”.

It’s almost entirely personal, but these last changes are, in my opinion, quite horrible. These kinds of changes reek of the WoW approach, where the developers start overreacting to a perceived deficiency (often perpetrated by the vocal minority) and don’t stay true to the theme, and vision, behind the design of a class. Then we end up with major overhauls every few months and every new expansion, and no one knows how to play their class or even cares to learn because “it’s just going to change in the next patch anyway”. There should be some aspects of every class that are sacrosanct, and for me the strategy involved in playing a Burglar is one of those.

It does say ‘Advanced Class’ when you create a Burglar. Leave it that way, please.

Free Server Transfers

The timing of the announcement was either sheer luck for Trion, or pure genius; either they stumbled into a pretty nice PR win or they’ve got people inside Blizzard feeding them info. Either way, I hope someone got paid a little extra. Kudos for that.

As a player, being able to move around for free is nice. I’ve been bitten by this before, and being charged anything, especially per character, stinks of a simple cash grab. If it’s meant to be a deterrent, just don’t allow them because otherwise it’s just insulting. I work with databases for a living, and I don’t care what anyone says – moving a set of rows from one database to another is a simple thing. If you can’t do that easily, then your system is designed VERY poorly. Legacy code is no excuse; how can you expect to run an ongoing service if your not willing to clean up your past mistakes?

And if you don’t think that Blizzard or Trion or Sony or whomever can’t pull up anything and everything about your characters, all in a few seconds, you are mistaken. What Trion has introduced is a completely automated system that costs them next to nothing and wins them huge points with their customers, especially in the context of what others charge.

I do agree with others, however, that it’s not entirely magnanimous nor is it as clear cut as the PR announcement. It’s not a free-for-all where anyone can go anywhere. This probably is a way to deal with population imbalances. But you know what? It’s FREE. And it shows that Trion values its customers by giving them the choice, well in advance of server merges, and it will continue to be an option. Every week. FOR FREE.

They’re not saints and its not driven by charity; I don’t expect them to be. But it’s a valuable service that they’re providing free of charge. So, overall, it’s a win for Trion.

That’s it for now!

I’m a ‘Lifer’, For Cryin’ Out Loud

This is getting a little old...

A Casual Stroll to Mordor had a great post yesterday with some suggestions on how to improve the LotRO Store, and I agree with pretty much everything. Especially the part about the buttons to the Store appearing everywhere.

But, for me, this is just one part of a problem that is increasingly frustrating – Turbine constantly badgering me with options I have no chance of taking. I’m a Lifetime Subscriber – I’m a VIP for as long as they keep the servers up and running.

You can’t tell me that Turbine doesn’t know exactly who I am every time I log in. They know everything about me as it relates to LotRO, and probably a little more. How hard is it to alter the loading splash screens to display content appropriate to the type of player? I’m a Lifer, which means I’m already a VIP – don’t show me advertisements for VIP status. I own Moria and Mirkwood, which means I already have access to the Runekeeper and Warden – don’t show me advertisements for purchasing access to classes I already “own”. I help design and run systems like this for a living (it’s called Business Intelligence), so I have a fairly good idea of what’s possible; Turbine, if you don’t have people to do this – call me, I’ve been known to freelance.

What’s not going to work in the long term is the constant barrage of reminders, the inundation and utter carpet bombing of every moment we spend in-game with the “upsell” that the Store has become. Nothing breaks immersion, and especially my enjoyment of the game, quite like the all-too-frequent, “<Ding> You’ve earned a nickel! Why don’t you go spend some money in our Store! PLEASE GO TO THE STORE. NOW!” Save all that for the Free Players.

The Store is not The Game, no matter how much upper management would like it to be. (Wouldn’t they just love it if we threw money into the Store and then simply went away? Alas, that particular scenario is not meant to be.) Our characters are The Game. The world is The Game. The Story is The Game.

Listen, Turbine, we get it. The Store is how you make money. It takes money to run MMOs and the Store is your income. But no matter how hard you try to sell us on the Store, LotRO will not reach the same level of success that DDO accomplished with it’s move to free-to-play. What’s happening, at least for me, is that every time I have the Store shoved in my face, the wedge driving me away from LotRO gets a little bigger.

It’s exhausting.

Trust me, I want to give you my money, as I’m sure many of us do. I love LotRO. And in many ways, you’ve earned it; if Isengard is half as good as I hope it will be, I will buy more points to afford it instead of saving up my monthly stipend. For me, it’s another expansion, and I’m accustomed to paying for expansions. But if I have to wade through reminders and billboards for the Store every time I log in, guess what? I’m going to stop logging in; that’s a real loss for both of us.

Onwards to 2011

“Vacation” is now over, though this year’s holiday break didn’t look much like those previous; working for a university means I get the week between Christmas and New Year’s off, but with two young kids at home it was more of a “working” vacation and didn’t provide much time for gaming. It was still highly enjoyable, however, as spending a week with the kids is a rare thing; between chipping away at some massive LEGO sets and TRON: Legacy with my older son and naps and “stair ball” (in which I throw a ball with blinking LED lights down our stairs hundreds of times to immense hilarity) with my younger son, we had a great time.

2010 was a tough year for our family; my wife and I were discussing this over New Year’s Eve dinner at our favorite restaurant and both agreed that we were definitely ready for the new year. We should have seen it coming when we started with a horrendous stomach bug that hit everyone in the house – it was going to be a difficult year, including, but not limited to, work trouble for both of us, major car troubles, and several large and unforeseen expenses. Some good parts as well, to be sure, but overall a year we’re glad to put behind us. Life goes on, both Real and Pixeled.

I’ve never been much for looking back, and if you had asked me at the start of last year about developments in the MMO industry during 2010, I would have been dead wrong on many counts. So instead of making general predictions for MMOs in 2011, I’m going to keep it personal and mention the games about which I’m most excited; I’m only predicting what I will end up playing or doing this year. Besides, if you want predictions for the coming year, there are some very good ones on Bio Break, Keen and Graev, and Kill Ten Rats (most of which I agree). And anyway, any predictions, be they about personal choices or industry developments, are going to be reflections on the genre as a whole.

2011 looks to be a banner year for our genre, so there’s a lot to discuss. Here goes.

RIFT: Planes of Telara: A lot of positive buzz is coming out of the recent RIFT betas, and though I haven’t done a ton of reading up on it, I’m definitely interested. Interested enough to pre-order. From what I have seen, the game is absolutely gorgeous, and polishes the genre staples to a high gloss. The lack of new or “revolutionary” features doesn’t bother me; like Gordon over at We Fly Spitfires, I’ve realized that I like themepark games and I don’t need revolutionary mechanics or gameplay as long as I’m having fun. I’m a tourist in MMOs – not in the sense that I jump from title to title without commitment, but that I play them mostly for the sights and the stories.

RIFT looks like the perfect game for a tourist such as myself. I’ll play it on and off for long enough to see the sights, then retire the account.

Guild Wars 2: If this game even launches in 2011, I have a feeling that my relationship with Guild Wars 2 is going to be much like my relationship to its older sibling – I’ll want to love it and play through its content, but something about it just won’t click. Everything I’m seeing and hearing about the game has me excited, and the visuals are stunning (as always), but the current incarnation can only seem to hold my attention for a week or so at a time, and I have a suspicion that GW2 will be the same.

However, if ArenaNet can cut back on the heavy instancing and really do the dynamic content the way I’m hoping, this could surprise me and take up a good chunk of my time. No matter what, this is near the top of my “Must Buy” list and I have no doubt that I’ll be there on launch day.

The Old Republic: As a serious fan of the franchise (more BioWare’s Old Republic, less so Star Wars these days) this is The Big One on my list for 2011. I stopped reading almost everything about the game several months ago, as I was tired of the hype cycle and the inevitable noise, from both the über-fans and the hardcore skeptics, that accompanies every announcement. Not that my excitement or anticipation is any less, but more that I want to go into the game as fresh as possible.

TOR is Number One on my list of new games for 2011 (as I’m sure it is for many), and I already know it will be a serious contender for my attention. Based on their past performance I have faith that BioWare will create a fun experience, and their supposed focus on story definitely sits well with me. It almost doesn’t matter what they charge – the Collector’s Edition shall be mine!

Lord of the Rings Online: As weird as it seems, this one is the hardest for me to predict for 2011. Despite recent evidence to the contrary in my many “opinionated” (negative) comments, I’ve been having a lot of fun in LotRO recently. The lore and my kin keep things interesting as always, I’m still enjoying the Yule Festival, and I’ve yet to seriously look into Enedwaith, so there’s no lack of content for me. Moreso, the announcement of Isengard has me excited and hopeful for the future of LotRO; if Turbine can do this expansion “right” and give us something new, it would go a long way to keeping us engaged.

But, if I had to make a prediction for 2011, I’d have to say that I’m going to stop playing LotRO. I absolutely love my Burglar, and I love the game, but it seems like the things I love about LotRO are things I loved about the game that have since changed, been lost over the past year, or have been crowded out by the “business side” of Turbine running their MMO.

I hate to think about leaving, but between a series of small but bad decisions regarding the Store and the looming threat of newer MMOs, I think it will become harder and harder for me to log in. I’ve been with LotRO since the beginning, which is three times longer than any other MMO I’ve played, and I have some great friends there, but Turbine’s treatment of its players and the incessant, unmitigated “upsell” of the Cash Shop is becoming a tougher and tougher pill to swallow.

I get the distinct feeling that Turbine cares only for converting Free Players into Paying Players and how many nickels and dimes they can wring out of every customer; either they no longer regard their long-term customers and fans as viable income (perhaps we spend less in the Store per person?) or it’s simply not an option to try to keep us happy. Either way, its looking like its only about Money now, not Fun or Enjoyment or creating an Experience, and that hurts. Hell, I imagine the only reason they haven’t pushed harder against Tolkien’s canon is because of contractual obligation, not a desire to stay true to the material or please Tolkien fans.

Of all my predictions, this is the one about which I hope I’m the most wrong. I hope that next year I’m still hopping around Middle Earth, fighting alongside Dunedain, Hobbits, and Ents(!) and standing toe-to-toe against Orcs, Trolls, and Nazgûl. Isengard could be a killer expansion that keeps me coming back for more and more. I hope.

MMO “X”: I don’t yet know what this game will be (hence the “X”), but I’m convinced that this year I will start to play more games with my older son (5 years old). He’s shown an increasing interest in playing something that goes beyond simple Flash games and I see no reason not to have him join me in a hobby I love (if I can just convince his mother!). Maybe it will be LEGO Universe, maybe Wizard 101, or maybe something else. Whatever it ends up being, 2011 will likely see my son’s first steps into a virtual world.

It makes a father so proud!

Earthrise: I’ve been following this game on and off since it was first announced, and I will likely give it a try. I’ve been looking for both a good sandbox-style game and a good Sci Fi MMO, and Earthrise looks like it could be both! I have a few reservations and concerns, but I think I will enjoy this one. It launches early this year so there’s not much competition in terms of time.

I don’t think Earthrise will gather a huge following, but I think it will do well enough and, given time, grow into a strong community.

“Free-To-Play”/“Free-To-Try” Gaming: Two types of predictions for this category. One, which games will make the switch to the Free To Try/F2P Hybrid that grew in popularity throughout 2010 and, two, some thoughts on upcoming F2P titles I’ll likely jump into and play.

First, if I had to guess, I’d say that Star Trek Online, Warhammer Online, and Age of Conan will all move to the Cash Shop/Hybrid model this year. Others will as well, but as this is a list of personal predictions, I’m only going to comment on these three because, if they do, I will likely play them. Age of Conan more than the other two, but all three are games in which I’m interested and would love to explore, but don’t feel they are worth the price of admission.

On the side of new games launching in 2011, I can safely say that I will try Black Prophesy and Jumpgate: Evolution. Both remind me of what is probably one of my top three games of all time – Tie Fighter. I’ve been dying for a good space combat flight-sim that makes me break out my joystick again, and both could fit that bill. I think both will launch in 2011.

Also launching this year, and which I will at least check out, are APB: Reloaded and The Agency. I will likely drop DDO and Vindictus from my regular cycle of games, but because the barrier to entry and exit is so low, I will check in from time to time.

So that’s it. My thoughts on the coming year.  As I said, 2011 doesn’t hold much of interest for me in the single-player games, but looks to be a hallmark year for MMOs. And, yes, some of the above is undoubtedly self-fulfilling, but there’s always a chance for a surprise hit (or bomb) and, as always, a chance that any of these games could be pushed back to 2012.

Finally, no discussion of the new year would be complete without a resolution or two. Mine is simple: more attention to writing. I haven’t been able to write here as often as I’d like, and I’m going to make a concerted effort to post regularly. I also have an MMO-related project or two in mind that I’d like to move forward.

It’s going be a busy year, but undoubtedly fun!

Drawn and Quartered

Being killed by horses. Gruesome.

Anyone who’s read previous posts probably knows where I’m headed with this just by looking at the image above. Unfortunately, it looks like I have to head back into “grumpy gamer” territory once again, but I promise it will be brief. This post’s title is indicative of how I’m feeling about Turbine’s recent decisions regarding mounts, but the title is also an indication of how I’ve recently been feeling about gaming in general. So let’s start with the unhappy stuff; I like to end on a positive whenever possible.

I don’t know who’s making the decisions about what goes in the Store recently, but Turbine has been making fewer and fewer good decisions (in my mind). I was mildly annoyed at the cash-grab, WoW-we-want-some-of-that-crazy-money that is the Steed of Night. But, finally finding the time to log in and check out the Yule Festival (which I love by the way – another top notch job by the Devs!), I was shocked and severely disappointed to find that the first year’s Yule Festival mount was not only unavailable, but had become a Store Exclusive. I swear, Turbine is killing me with these damnable mounts (see where I’m going with the title? <sigh>).

Now, I realize that, one, I can pick the Yule Festival Steed up in the store for relatively little and, two, that it’s my fault for not having picked it up in-game when it was previously available for in-game currency. However, that doesn’t stop it from upsetting me, and here’s why:

  1. First and foremost, there was ZERO notice given by Turbine that last year would be our final opportunity to pick up this particular mount in the normal fashion. Granted, they couldn’t say anything because the Free To Play announcement hadn’t been made, so they obviously couldn’t speak to the contents of the Store!
  2. I didn’t pick this mount up the first time (or two) because, back then, mounts weren’t skills. They took up inventory space, and I didn’t have much to spare. So I chose the Festival Mounts I liked best and acquired those. It was my intention to pick up the Yule Festival Steed this year, just as I’ve picked up a few missing mounts in previous festivals.
  3. While I don’t mind it being in the store, I want to earn this mount in the same way I’ve been able to earn it for the past few years. Turbine set a standard of allowing us to barter for the previous year’s mount in subsequent festivals. I’d like this to continue to be the case.


And just as icing on this particular cake (though it comes as no surprise to me, or even most people), the “very rare” Skeleton Mount from the Harvest Festival is now also a Store Exclusive! Whee! Aren’t we having fun, kids?

So, for everyone who didn’t get one, here’s your chance. For all those who were lucky enough to win that particular lottery, well…here’s to having your good fortune severely diminished.

That concludes the grumpy segment, except to say this; Turbine’s behavior with the Store is making me increasingly nervous, at an accelerated rate. Either the Store is doing so well that someone in management is pushing these bad decisions without concern for the players, or it’s not doing nearly well enough to keep LotRO a viable, ongoing game. Neither of those is good for long-time fans, and considering the slew of great alternatives on the horizon (SW:TOR, Guild Wars 2, Rift, etc.) now is not the time for Turbine to alienate it’s playerbase.

On the positive side of things, I’ve found myself in the interesting position of being pulled in many directions at once. Normally I’m the type of person to set my sight and go full steam ahead, and DAMN THE TORPEDOES! But recently I’ve found many more things truly competing for the time I spend in MMOs.

First and foremost, it’s the holidays (duh!) and I have two small children. The lead-up to Christmas is a truly spectacular (and insanely frustrating) thing for anyone who has children. Witnessing the wholehearted, unquestioning belief in you-know-who, despite a shameful 9-year-old flat out telling my son the opposite, is a thing of wonder. It is inspiring, and more than anything brings the holiday spirit home.

Second, I’ve found renewed interest in single-player games. We recently moved my gaming rig downstairs, into what will become a full “home office”, which has enabled me to jump into games much more frequently. Before, I was entirely isolated from the rest of the house just to sit at the computer, which was less than conducive, especially during the evening hours. Some might say that having the computer more central and accessible would be bad for gaming, but with two kids and a non-gamer spouse it actually makes it a bit easier.

And, for obvious reasons, single-player games are much easier to enjoy in this setup. Sure, there are times when I’m interrupted every 15 minutes (or 5…GEEZ!). But with the ability to pause, jump out for 30 minutes or so, and jump right back in, I’m 100% more likely to load up a single-player game during peak hours. MMOs have to wait until the late hours of the night when everyone else is asleep. So I’ve been catching up on some games I purchased but never played; I just finished Risen (a very nice RPG I would recommend to anyone) and then decided to try Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Wow. That’s all I can say. What an amazing game; I’ve actually found myself playing that instead of MMOs a few nights running.

Last, and certainly not the least, was a run-in I recently had with a friend I hadn’t seen in years. Both of us are students of the same style and while he has many years more experience than me, he is a great teacher and friend and loves to practice; someone from whom I always learn something valuable and from whom I draw a great deal of inspiration (for certain aspects of life). I was able to spend a good number of hours revisiting skills I had forgotten, or let slip, and he reignited an enthusiasm that has been dwindling recently.

Practicing with him didn’t just inspire me to reach for greater skill, it also showed me how far I’ve come since I last had a chance to practice with him, many years ago. Both things are inspiring, and have made certain aspects of the digital realm a little less appealing. Because, at the end of the day, what have I accomplished when playing games? I might have a new cosmetic title or checked off another box on my growing list of To-Do’s, but what do I really have to show for it?

Yes, I’ve had fun and pursued a hobby I’ve loved for decades, and yes, in many cases I’ve shared a fun experience with friends. I’m not devaluing either of those things. No, I’m not considering a hiatus from gaming. But it certainly has given me a lot to think about, and perhaps a reason to shift my priorities a little.

Dev Diary: No Such Thing as “Free”

Oh...no...I think I may cry...

Update: just when I was about the get a little doom-and-gloom, Turbine had to go and announce Isengard…oh well, this post was almost complete, so here goes. I still have hesitations over class items in the Store, and it does feel a bit like Turbine is covering mediocre design decisions by distracting with a big, yet completely vague, announcement for something still a year off.

I had another post in the works when I saw that a new Dev Diary had posted to the LotRO site. This most recent post covers one of the new mechanics for the November Update – class consumables. My initial reaction to these (when I read the November Update patch notes) was fairly optimistic; as a Scholar, the more items I can create the more valuable I am to other players and to the economy, and a lot of these class consumables are created by Scholars.

However, for a few reasons, this update now appears to me as a possibly dangerous idea. But more than the fact that I’m not convinced that these items are an outright “improvement” to the game, the whole thing makes me a little nervous. Has Turbine turned a corner here and begun to show us what “Free To Play” is really going to be about? Are items such as these what we can look forward to in the Store? Have we taken that first step on the path to Pay To Win?

Here’s what got me twitching in the back of my brain:

  1. First, the addition of even more consumables that we’ll need to carry around with us just strikes me as Turbine moving in the wrong direction. As if we didn’t already have a metric ton of items taking up what little inventory space we have. And it creates yet more buttons on an already crowded screen. I mean, really? This isn’t too terrible, however, until you consider what it could mean about the future of the game, and the kind of ideas that are either being tossed around the design meetings, or being handed down from on high. For example…
  2. The difference between the crafted versions of items, and those bought in the Store make me very nervous. Take the Overpower Tactics pictured below.

    Store-bought on the left, crafted on the right

    Notice the difference? Look closer:Now, there is the obvious difference in level requirements (15 vs. 25), but both of those items are Tier 2 consumables, and the Tier 2 Store-bought item provides a better buff than the crafted version; that’s an 86% increase over those made by Scholars. What about the highest tier of items? Both will presumably have similar, if not identical level requirements, yet if they follow the example above, the items bought with hard cash could very well be far superior. Can you see why this makes me a bit nervous?

  3. “But, Drannos”, you say, “players can use both of these items simultaneously to double their buff! Players will need (or want) both!”. Exactly my point! Is that a good thing? Again, it hints at a direction in gameplay with which I’m not entirely comfortable – the Pay to Win scenario. What player isn’t going to walk into endgame content without these items? Both of these items? By making both usable simultaneously, could Turbine be creating a scenario where raid leaders require their players to purchase cash shop items?

Doom! DOOM I tell you!

I don’t mean to be a complete naysayer; it seems like most of my posts about LotRO recently have been full of negativity, and that’s not intentional. I’ve been having a lot of fun in the game, it’s just that the aspects I’m enjoying aren’t much different (if at all) from what I’ve already written about, and Turbine isn’t giving us a whole lot of new things to discuss. It remains to be seen how these items will play out in the actual game. And, of course, it’s always up to the players to decide how to spend their money, and what items to leverage in the game. It’s not the class items that bother me so much as the specific differences between the crafted versions and the cash shop versions, and the indications this kind of setup could have for Turbine’s feelings about the future of the game. It’s beginning to feel like Turbine is cornering us into cash purchases.

As always, I give Turbine full marks for listening to their players; they do a better job than most in this industry. And, according to the Dev Diary, these items were designed after listening to us players. However, as a father of two, I can tell you that handing over that which is requested can often be worse than the alternatives.

I think Turbine means well with these items, but you know what they say about the road to Hell? What’s it paved with? That’s right.

Class consumables.

(Or good intentions…whatever…)