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July 08, 2008



Might I suggest getting one of those free-to-play Asian import MMOs? The mechanics are different enough from Western MMOs (usually; ones that try to emulate Western MMOs like Runes of Magic are definitely the exception) that you might find it a nice chance. Most of the other players will be Asian, so if you like to play alone, they won't bug you, but if you want to get to know them, most of them can do passably well in English, typing anyway. And they are amazingly supportive if you want to learn a little Chinese/Japanese/Korean.

All the Western MMO devs are just remaking the same game. If Florensia was out now, I'd recommend that. It's wonderfully kooky. I liked Dream of Mirror Online, and Fiesta Online has gotten some nice reviews. I dabble in Stone Age 2 now and again.

There's a LOT of stuff out there that has NOTHING in common with the stuff you have played. This is a good time to check out what the other half of the world is playing. You'll also have to get used to RMT, many of the games are a lot less fun without it. Hey, it's a business model, not a moral choice, right?


Good luck, my dear.

I'm splitting time between WoW and AoC now. WoW for sheer, well-tooled fun, and AoC because well... I sort of have to. It's fun, but unpolished.

Fall and the release of the next big MMO to try and be anywhere near as solid as WoW is a long ways away it seems on days like this, no?


That's something that has never occurred to me. I've read and listened to all the bad press from the point of view of Western players that I've never considered an Asian import. Thanks for the suggestions. I don't have a problem with sanctioned RMT. Time is money for many players.


Yes, fall seems like years away at this point. *sighs*


I know exactly what you mean, I've been splitting my time between LotRO and Oblivion on the xBox360.

I have not had too much problems soling, just the occasional need for a group to finish Story quests or ends to major threads. Day to Day soloing seems a breeze to me.

Charles Davies

I'm very much a fan of your blog, keep up this great posts. Charles


With regard to your questions about LotRO:

- Most of the mechanics have not changed significantly. (Combat-wise that is)

- The areas they addressed for the solo gamer are in the thirties, forties and stuff to do at fifty. They added content to these level ranges including the zone of Evendim (30s) and Forochel (mid-40s). Angmar underwent a revamp as well (40s & 50s). Also they added new questlines.

- Most classes have had a review month by now. They all seem to be sporting new skills from when I remember them in open beta. The Lore Master has a number of spells now that make them feel more "wizardy." The champion has a few more skills to upgrade thier dps, etc. I recall you liked the Captain class but that's one I didn't try in open beta so I have no means of comparison to say whether or not they have improved. Personally, I'm still a burglar fan and I know we've been given a number of neat new toys to play with.

All that being said: the best items and xp are still mainly through instances or the epic storyline most of which is group-based (only Book Nine is almost entirely solo).

It is still a task / quest driven game. Killing mobs between quest objectives isn't totally wasted time but still you'll get boat-loads more xp for handing in a quest than in killing mobs. The nice thing is: many mobs apply to traits and killing mobs is still good for cash / AHable stuff.

If you do decide to give it another go, I'd recommend getting the heck out of Breeland as soon as you can. The Shire is my favorite zone but I also liked the elven area around Celondim (head as far east as you can). Breeland is a bit depressing and the travel distances are on the long side.

Good luck in your search! I've been playing MMOs for about five years now and I know I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I couldn't log into something enjoyable after a tough day at the office.


You could also check out Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates. It's a different sort of MMO, designed around puzzles and skill rather than grinding. It's not for everyone, but I found it to be a breath of fresh air in the sometimes stuffy MMO world.


I'd been feeling very much the same way -- but this last week I popped back into Vanguard because they re-activated my account for free this month. Its a totally different game, you can actually play it now. And I've been having a blast. As thoughts of re-subscribing pass through my mind I'm comforting myself with the fact that it wouldn't be Sigil I'm sending money to, but Sony.

Worth checking out, I think they turned everyone's account back on.


For most classes LoTRO has become easier to solo in. Gaurdians, Loremasters, and Minstrals have much better offense now when solo, and still excel at their job in groups. Champs have some new defensive and mixed stances, but mainly they got better at tanking in parties (though they can have all their defenses up without utterly gimping their offense now, which is nice). Hunters never had a problem. Burgs and Captains got some upgrades, but I don't play either one of those so I can't say much. I do know that Captain is considered one of the slower solo classes now.

In terms of content, the solo leveling is much easier post 30 than it used to be. If you enjoy crafting, a good strategy is to keep yourself in solid crafted gear and then quest strictly for XP. You will likely want your first toon to be able to make armor and have the appropriate processing/ gathering skill to use this strategy. That means go Metalsmith, Explorer, or perhaps Tinker on your first character.

Another key is not to obsess out on group quests. There are tons, but they are mainly there for folks that enjoy them. When you run out of solo quests in a zone, move on. You should have some "nose-ring" quests (talk to Captain X in Zone Y you've never been to) that will show you where to go next.

There are far more soloable quests in game than one character can possibly get to (unless you like doing gray quests). If you've run out, it's time to hit a new quest hub.

Apart from LoTRO, a few random suggestions:

City of Heroes: an absolute blast for your first month. You will probable get burned out quickly after that, but it is so much fun at first that I highly recommend it. The game has also been getting tons of free content, it's better now than it has ever been.

Dark Age of Camolot: has held up tons better than most of the MMOs of similar age. Be sure to start on a "classic" server. Harsh learning curve at first. Quite solo-able, but you need to know what classes to avoid and where to go. The game does not make either of those easy to figure out past level 10. Google "catacombs quests" and aurulite + DAoC to get a good idea.

A whirlwind tour of free to play MMOs. If you hunt around, you can find a list of "top ten free to play MMOs" that is updated regularly. Who knows, some of them might be fun.


@Kahn and Yeebo - Thank you for the detailed update on the classes and soloing in LOTRO. That was much appreciated.

I've poked around the DOAC site many times since the announcement of WAR, to get a feel for the type of game Mythic develops. I've never sub'd because I hate to spend the money on a game merely as a look-see adventure. I wouldnt have cared so much in the past but the mounting number of boxes gathering dust on my shelves makes me think twice these days. It's much cheaper to re-sub a previous game than purchase and new sub.

As for COH/COV never been sure that genre would strike a chord with me since I'm not into comics. But everyone says is so much fun so I'll keep it in mind.

I think I'm going to take a quick spin on the free-to-play front and see what I find. It should at the very least provide some interesting posts if not a new home. :-)


PC MMMOs are in a it of a rut at the moment. Personally I think it is the beginning of the end of PC MMORPGing but I can't claim to be an expert judge. Have you considered a spot of single player gaming? Even though PCs are not the focus of single player gaming any more there are still some terrific titles out there to savour: Mass Effect / Sins of a Solar Empire / Portal / Bioshock and of course if you can handle an FPS Call of Duty 4 and Team Fortress 2 have both set new standards. Gears of war is also worth considering for its fun co-op mode.

Gaming Diva

I'm back to playing The Eldder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and last night I downloaded Diablo II on my MacBook Pro, yeah the graphics are outdated but it's a game I truly enjoy. :-)

WOW bored me after four months, I played it every day. I could not make myself play it any longer it bored me. It didn't hold my attention like The Elder Scrolls, Mass Effect, Bioshock, or Gears of War.

I might play WOW sometime this fall but for now I don't want to have anything to do with it.

I might try some of the Asian imports to see how I like them.

Petter Mårtensson

I actually think you should give Vanguard another try. If you've already played it didn't you get an offer to try it out again for free? I went from WoW/Eve -> AoC -> WoW/Eve -> Vanguard and I've seriously haven't felt this "at home" in a MMO since the early days of vanilla WoW. It's great fun, lots to do, and even though it can be glitchy at times it has come a long, long way since the catastrophic launch.

But at the same, I would probably have been saying the same things as you do now if I had been there at launch. :)


I played CoH a long time ago. It's not fantasy but it was a lot of fun. I'm also tempted to give Vanguard a shot just to see what it's like.

I'd recommend going to the web sites for games you might be interested in and seeing if they offer free trials. Running around the free trial circuit could be a neat way to find your next MMO.


I learned how to play MMO's when I felt like you..
I quit for an extended period.

LOTRO did me in with it's lackluster approach to MMO's. Take all the MMO bits of other games and bring it to a boring grinding halt.

My wife and myself quit after the way that game made us feel...we thought we were done with MMO's.

But, after single player games for 6+ months, I finally came back, but started a game I never played...EQ2, and learned to like MMO's again.

I still would like the idea of something new and I thought AoC was it. But, now I play what has made me happy in the past.

Do the same...take a break, and try something new when you come back...you will be more satisfied.


Well you've got me thinking... Like I said before, I've been goofing around in CoX and EVE lately, but I'm seriously considering going back to my "alma mater" of MMO's: DAoC.

I think you would like DAoC more than you liked AoC, just from a few things you've mentioned. It has great armor/weapon sets to lust over - which are totally customizable by color dyes/enamels. It has a well developed crafts model, which lets you make both useful and profitable items. The PvP ruleset is probably the "best of show" in the MMO world as far as I'm concerned (there are definite reasons to PvP, and not just for personal gain - they really tap into a sense of "patriotism" - and the seige stuff is just really cool as well).

The graphics and gameplay mechanics may seem dated, but it's still good and fun. As someone else pointed out, definitely go for a "classic" server if you decide to login. Damn - I think I've talked myself into re-sub'ing LOL!


Thanks for all the advice and excellent suggestions. I've never been at this crossroad before with MMOs - where I'm seriously thinking of just taking a break. My house is in the tail-end of being remodeled a bit with two kids having left the nest. My other hobbies take a bit of setup time and lots of space. Once my hobby room is setup I might just paint or do some still photography for a while if I havent found an MMO by then.

I did cruise thru the free sites last night nothing really piqued my interest. I'm going to look some more tonite and then re-visit DOAC's site.


I've been in Guild Wars since its E3 beta and it is the one single game I keep returning to every time I'm in a slump. Right now it's a LOTRO slump solely for the reason I attempted to push my main to 50 last month, and didn't make it. So I took this month off. Lifetime membership and all makes taking breaks easy. Same with Guild Wars since it never had fees anyway.

Based on your description of GW in the main post, my perception is that, like most MMO players coming to GW, you don't "get it." It intentionally has a low level cap because the game is completely not based on levels at all. The *only* thing seeing a "20" over your head tells me is that you've completed the noob content and you most likely now have a set of max armor and enough skills learned to be able to put together a build that will be useful to the group. That's it. I'll assume you have the first GW campaign, Prophecies. At least 70% of the game takes place at level cap because again, it's not a levels+gear game like MMO's are. In the Factions and Nightfall campaigns, that number is easily 90% because their noob content is contained and level you quickly to get you into the real content.

Also, yes, I'd suggest checking out some of the F2P titles. I'm trying a few out recently. The overall game play is more shallow than we'd see in a Western AAA title (or they simply don't go to the lengths to disguise the grind like our AAA ones do...) but they often have very unique sub-systems which our AAA titles never come close to addressing.


@Scott - Yes, have prophs. Thought the end was so you went off to PVP. Guess that's not it. What does the end game consist of and what is the average max level toon doing?


Nah, you can PvP from Day One by creating a PvP-only character.

GW doesn't use the "level up through the whole game then you're done so play end-game" design. At all. It levels you fairly quickly (less so in Prophecies however) then at level cap you continue playing through the story line, in addition to the quests you'd find at hubs, etc. GW has a lot in common with a CCG. It's "about" accruing more skills in your arsenal, which in PvE terms means (Prophecies only) doing quests to get trained in certain skills, and finding boss mobs in the wilderness and capturing Elite skills from them. The CCG aspect comes in by having so many skills (cards) available but you can only load up 8 at once into your hotbar (your "deck" so to speak) and you have to take into consideration what mobs (or players in PvP) you might be up against, and what are the other members (players or AI) in your group using and how can you put together a build that will complement them as well as your own skills complementing each other or the single Elite skill you can load?

Since you hit 20 fairly quickly (especially in the later two campaigns) the average L20 toon is adventuring still (majority of the game takes place at 20) as well as trying to find (or trade) weapon and armor mods to tweak their abilities (also finding a mod in PvE unlocks it for your PvP-only characters to use as well), adventuring (or farming) the elite zones such as Underworld and Fissure of Woe for extremely rare and valuable crafting materials for the most expensive armor in the game (not to mention the gold item drops), working on titles, and so forth. Not to mention all the PvP modes.


I feel the same way just exactly at this time.
- Played WoW for 4 years. I am back now since the fun factor for me is greater than in any other MMO for someone having only a few hours to play in the evenings. I am waiting for WoTLK.
- Played EQ2 till level 80. Absolutely loved this game but the last expansion was just not it. I'm utterly sick of any jungle ;)
- Played Guild Wars but never enough to keep me hooked, didn't like the community really (French community).
- Played Lotro and am currently also back in Lotro, they made it much easier for solo play but again, something is missing (maybe lack of "fantasy").
- Played Vanguard lately since account reactivation. They made MAJOR improvements to the game even since January when they first reactivated the accounts. However, this game for me has one big issue: objects and your avatar do not feel integrated in the world. Example: when you swim and you rotate your camera to the side, you'll see that you are swimming above the water. Same for the trees: they seem to be added on top of the geometry especially when you look at the base of the trunk. It's done in such an unnatural way. Everything feels that way which is a pity really. I'll wait for the character redesign to be released with GU6...

Therefore, I wish I had the following:
- Fun factor from WoW with the great animations. - All the little instances in EQ2, the crafting system and the wide character customization. - The seemless beautiful environment of Lotro. - The huge vast world of Vanguard with this feeling of discovery and adventuring. - The dynamics of Ryzom (never seen something like Ryzom: seasons with permanent effects on the environments, when there was a storm coming it was a real storm, not just rain. Animals would move in packs from one place to another, sometimes not to return). It all felt so realistic and immersive.

What I don't want anymore in any MMO, ever: wolves, bears, boars and spiders. Comm'on, devs can create just ANYTHING that comes to mind therefore why the heck create the same creatures over and over again? I just don't get it...


Made a comment that somehow triggered your spam filter, Saylah. Not sure why, no bad words and no URLs. So... it's there in the ether somewhere...

@Syah: GW's community is pretty poor, I'll give it that. At least the in-game general chat community. Managing to get past that to some good guilds (more important perhaps: a good alliance) and it's night and day over the general chat garbage. On the one hand, I wonder if it's the "no monthly fee" that gets those people, but we also see them in WoW and AoC. As suspected, AoC's M-rating got itself a player base that is anything *but* mature, but that's a whole other topic...

Regarding LOTRO: Tolkien was always *very* low fantasy, and I suspect a lot of people just don't realize that. Also, the way Turbine is developing the game is chronologically: we're still in Eriador during a time period when most of that region had no clue war was imminent and Sauron was on the move. Hence, the mostly happy-go-lucky attitude prevalent in a lot of the zones, and the less-than-epic "pest control" game play. That should (and better!) change with each expansion as we progress closer to Mordor and the time line progresses into the war.


@Scott: regarding the GW's community, I wasn't really thinking of the immature aspects (since we all know how immature WoW's community can be and I don't even wanna guess what it's like in AoC...), but rather the lack of community feeling; since most of the game is instanced, which is okay, I did not feel part of a vast open world with people sharing the same adventures.

Regarding Lotro: it is obvious that Turbine could not go outside the boundaries of the lore set by Tolkien, which was by its own definition indeed not "fantasy"; but I feel some emptyness in Lotro, although the community on the other hand is absolutely great and very roleplay (on the RP server at least).

Also, this brings me to another aspect of the games: your avatar. I need to feel attached to my avatar. I am the kind of person who needs to identify himself/herself to the little guy/girl running around in the middle of the screen (I am not saying that I'm walking around in my house pretending I am a night elf of course ;), but if the avatar customization is not much to my liking, it breaks the urge to play for me.

And this is what I am experiencing with Lotro. I feel the avatars do have lack of expression in their face, and the animation is just horrid (elves run around like they are butting their bottoms). I like my avatars in WoW though even if customization is not as good as in other games. In EQ2 it's okay except for human females (they just look either on drugs or very dumb). Therefore, avatar customization is an aspect that will make me wanna stay in an MMO... or not.


I don't mind that in GW because, if you notice, I never refer to GW as an MMO. ArenaNet constantly made a big deal about "this is NOT an MMO" back in beta, etc. but gaming media ignored that completely and so today we have the mass confusion when MMO players come to GW and don't get what they expected and don't know what to do with what they're given. Which perhaps is yet another topic on why *players* ruin games for themselves when they come into every game with pre-conceived notions and expectations based solely upon the "MMO" acronym being attached to the title and assuming it always means the same thing every time.

I must be the only person who doesn't see these "awful animations" in LOTRO, although I will admit I made a hobbit once and didn't care for the way it looked when running. Turbine keeps tweaking animations very slowly and sneakily. In fact, a Book or two ago (whichever one had the slight combat speed increase) changed my Loremaster's (female elf) jump animation and I really miss the old one, it fit better than the new in my (minority apparently) opinion. Being able to set /mood can help with facial expressions, although... are you seriously playing with the camera zoomed in that close all the time to watch facial expressions? If only MMO's had expressions and reactions during combat (and other activities) to match the sound effects...

My one complaint is that LOTRO characters are probably the *cleanest* people I've ever seen in any game, especially for all that wandering around and battling they do. They must bathe after each fight and spend their off-time in the Bree Beauty Spa...


This is always how I looked at the LOTRO models

LOTRO Females

Look at the face, just so bland
The dimensions for the breast and hips are way off.
Their run was not realistic
Overall the models are horrible in LOTRO compared to say GW or even WoW (which has a natural look to the movement of the characters even though they live in Cartoon World!)

Of course Vanguard totally flubbed theirs up for the revamp also. But, I heard it may get fixed...here is hoping.

I guess no game will be perfect, so you have to make do.
Guild Wars with a little EQ2 for me.

Hope you find your groove. If not, think about that break.


@Scott - Freed you from the spam. I got caught in there 3 times yesterday and have no clue why. :-)


@Syah - Beyond gaming, I've been thinking about fantasy worlds and how they are completely stuck in Tolkien's vision and Middle Ages. It's astonishing to find so little progression is what a high fantasy world looks like with magic.

You've obviously spent a lot of time thinking about what does and doesn't work for you in the games you've played. Thanks for taking the time to articulate it so clearly. It provides and interesting opportunity to dialog. I think I'll start another post to pull these thoughts back up to the top. I'd still be playing WOW if I could have had EQ2 player house and crafting. Can you imaging how amazing it would be to setup and run your own shop in WOW!! Or how much fun it would be to decorate a player dwelling with the artifacts of years of game play?? I'd have all my once uber sets in showcases instead of having vendored them when I absolutely ran out of inventory space and didnt want any new bank alts


I have to agree with Open the LOTRO character models border on ugly. At the very least, boring and stiff looking. That whole cover up your armor with cosmetic items is too address the jumbled and horrid looking armor. Or at least it was horrid when I was playing shortly after launch.


@Saylah, quoting this: "It's astonishing to find so little progression is what a high fantasy world looks like with magic."

It's not an MMO, but Magic the Gathering did some interesting things with the fantasy setting for the Ravnica block.

I'd still like to see a high fantasy world that made it through an industrial revolution, though.


I'm tempted to resub to Eve...but the sad truth of the matter is that it's a lot more fun thinking about playing Eve Online than it is actually playing it.

It's a beautiful game and I love the way it looks and sounds...but the point and click + hours of actually travel time are killer. I quit last time because I logged in and couldn't think of one good reason to leave the hangar. :(

Maybe Jumpgate will let me in their beta...lol


Turbine has done a number of things to improve the appearances and animations. I agree about most of the armor though - as a Burglar I wear medium armor and leveled prior to the cosmetic clothing options. All I can say is ewww. Most medium armor looks terrible. I'm glad I can cover that stuff up now. There are a few nice-looking pieces available. Now, once you're done with the armor, you can still keep the look by using the piece cosmetically.

The character animations have improved a lot. The dwarf base model isn't much to look at but seeing a dwarf in full heavy armor (especially the end-game set stuff) is a thing of beauty. They look about like you'd expect: a short mass of metal with an axe and a beard. I've never cared for LotRO's elves ... then again, I just don't like elves. Still, I think they are a slight improvement over WoW's floppy-bunny-eared variety.

As for the rest, it is a subdued game. You won't do a triple-backflip with a half-gainer just to hit an orc with your mace. The magic isn't the summon-fire-from-the-sky variety. I think Turbine has done well in creating a game along the lines of Tolkien's vision.

A fair amount of stuff has changed since the open beta days. It's not a game for everyone but no games are.

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