First up is a quote from the always-humorous (and insightful) Killed in a Smiling Accident:
“Once again Turbine employ the Magic As Plot Protection device, where your band of plucky heroes is rendered utterly helpless by Random Villain B so that he can monologue without the vexing interruptions of you trying to stab him in the face, an occurrence so common now that one wonders just what sort of mismanagement must be going on at Sauron & Sons Ltd. for them not to have cakewalked their way to victory already, given that they can render whole groups of heroes utterly helpless seemingly at will, or at least when it’s most terribly convenient. Perhaps they’re all too busy monologuing to actually get on with finishing the job.”
Melmoth provides better commentary on Volume 2 in LOTRO than I could, really (and, er, did). While Turbine’s epic storylines are certainly some of the best highlights of the game, they do have their frustrating/nonsensical/tedious/weird aspects — and by frankly discussing them can we hope that Turbine improves upon this feature for the future.
I’ll add one more thought to this storyline. There are two points where the game seems to give you an actual complicated decision — both revolving around saving an important prisoner or not — but it’s just a charade. No matter what you choose, the NPCs force you to do what they want anyway, so potential rich exploration of choice-and-consequences averted.
That really, really disappointed me. I don’t want the game to protect me from my choices during quests, I want to decide something and have to live with my choice (and if I’m so terrifying of choosing “wrong” I can consult a local walkthrough). These epic stories would really benefit from more of a choose-your-own-adventure slant, and it’s something I hope comes to the future.
Next quote is from Tales of the Aggronaut, who discusses player housing:
“I mentioned above that no one has done player housing right. What I mean by that is that no one has designed a model for player housing that makes it clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s worth the trade-off.”
This is a hard article for me to read, because I’m very much pro-housing (as you’ve all learned by now). Still, this post makes a lot of valid points from a design perspective, and I completely agree with his final point that housing should be more involved with one’s character and the rest of the game to give it purpose.
And for developers who don’t want to go full-fledged housing route, I wish someone would take my idea of temporary player camps (shh, Fallen Earth, I had it years before you did) and bring it into more games. Being able to put up a tent and show off a few of your favorite acquisitions in the game world would give players another way to “show off” and fart around in the downtime between raids and whatnot. The roleplaying possibilities are endless as well.