As the last day of DAW is upon us, I find myself writing a love letter to Turbine. A disclaimer: you might grumble that this post is very optimistic and free of critique, and you're right! After all, it's Developer Appreciation Week, the one week of the year in which the gaming blog community gives game developers some time off from being under constant fire of their customers. DAW is about the people behind the company, despite all the vitriol from the playerbase hardworking persons with a passion for gaming - of this I am convinced. So yes, fangirl mode is engaged once more; better save your whining for tomorrow!
If something is there for a long time, one tends to get used to it being around, taking its beauty for granted. Lord of the Rings Online is one of such games for me, having played it since 2007. It deserves better, though: it opened my eyes to the world of gaming and has shaped me both as a player and a person. Today I would like to stop and share the six things I love about the game you've created:
1) Incredibly beautiful landscapes
I don't know how you do it, but here is a sense of realism about the world you have created that convinces me I am traveling through Middle-earth when I login. The screenshot above I took a few weeks ago on my hunter in Eregion is just one example. Digital Middle-earth is a vivid world with many details that is so worth exploring. After nine years, LOTROs landscape is still competitive with freshly launched MMOs. That should say enough.
2) Character diversity
I consider myself a Tolkien fan, but am the first to admit that The Professor's writings resonate the Zeitgeist of that age, with all the downsides that come with that. The amount of meaningful women in The Lord of the Rings (the books) is alarmingly low and some expressions seem borderline racist. Then Lord of the Rings Online: plenty of powerful women (the female thanes of Rohan deserve a special mention) and even often overlooked minorities such as slaves and children featuring prominently in the stories. All things considered, you effectively made a better version of Middle-earth.
3) Uniqueness of classes
There is no rigid holy trinity in LOTRO and this is something to be cherished! Every class has its own flavour and unique abilities, and although this makes class balance a huge challenge, it also creates the opportunity for players to come up with creative solutions in group content.
4) Appropriate clothing
I get so tired of playing (female) characters that show huge cleavage or undies in other MMOs. LOTRO is a positive exception to this rule. Not only don't I get sexy armour forced upon me, I don't even have to suffer other people standing around in hubs looking ridiculous. This all combined with a huge amount of outfitting possibilities, of which the countless LOTRO fashion blogs are an expression.
5) Well-written quests
"LOTRO is the only MMO where I read quest text." I ran into this on a blog the other day, and it's not the first time I've read this. Your quests are cute and heartwarming, as well as cunning and original. Some MMOs need voice acting and cut scenes to keep the player involved, you do it without and you still rock!
6) A game for all
Finally, LOTRO is one of very few MMOs that I would recommend to people of any age, even the youngest players. The game has a wide array of content for all difficulties and the friendly community is a logical extension of this.
Thank you for enriching my life with all of the above. Keep up the great job!