Flashback: I’ve Ventured Into Middle-Earth

With the release of Helm’s Deep and the next chapter of LOTRO, I decided to go back to the beginning and take a look at the first “post” I ever made about the game. I’ve lifted this from my personal blog, and it’s really fun to go back and see “where it all began”. It’s interesting that almost three years later I’m still playing the game, and have found various other ways to enjoy it such as contributing to LOTRO Players, podcasting, and making vidcasts. I still feel kind of bad about the dead wild pigs.

This article was originally posted on February 21, 2011

I’ve Ventured Into Middle-Earth

Well, I’ve done it now.  Inspired partially by the genius of the socially inept group from “The Guild” series, I started researching the MMORPG’s currently available online.  MMORPG stands for “Massive Multiplayer Online Roll-Playing Game”.  Picture Dungeons and Dragons on the Internet.  I’ve done my share of gaming here and there, dating all the way back to an Atari 2600 that I once “flipped” the score on while playing “Star Wars: The Arcade Game” for several hours.  You should have seen it, I was in the zone – it was like that scene in The Last Starfighter when the entire trailer park gathered around as the kid got closer and closer to defeating the arcade record.  Except I was alone in my parents house.  And I was never recruited by the rebel alliance despite my obvious Jedi reflexes.  But I’ve never really been enthralled with the idea of a “World of Warcraft” experience, being that you first paid money for the game itself, and then you paid money on a monthly basis to play online.  Seemed a lot like I was paying twice for the same thing – and quite a hefty sum, too, if you added up all of the monthly costs over the duration of the game.

I was excited to find out that there is a game based on “The Lord of the Rings” lore,  which of course includes some of my favorite movies of the last decade.  Even better, as of late last year, the game and many aspects of the online experience are free to play.  Not free for a month, or free for 5 levels – but just plain free.  For the entire game, and 65 levels.  Apparently they’ve gone to an ala-carte paid system where players can choose to pay for premium content (lifting of currency restrictions, extra quests, character clothing, etc.), and according to the Wikipedia article, have tripled their revenue in doing so.  That was it for me – they had me at “free”.

So, I spent a few hours last night creating a middle-earth character.  It’s much tougher than it sounds.  Should it be a dwarf or an elf?  Should it be a captain class or a minstrel class?  What name would I not mind being stuck with for the duration of the game?  I ended up with a human character (boring, I know), hunter class named Braxwolf of Gondor.  Hunter class means he uses primarily a bow and attacks from afar.  That sounded safer to me.  Tougher to get fried by dragon breath from afar.  After creating my character I spent most of the night out practicing my bow skills by shooting at some innocent animals roaming the countryside, like wolves and wild pigs.  It wasn’t until later that I realized that I was supposed to talk to some people in town who would have guided me through learning the controls, panels and game features.  Oops.  Sorry, dead wild pigs.  I do hope that I’ll be able to get some more stylish digs for him, because nobody with a manly name like Braxwolf should be running around in Peter Pan garb.

All in all, it was a fun experience.  I’m sure I’ll be back in Middle-Earth before too long.  In the meantime, though, I’ve still got some console games to finish up.  AC:Brotherhood and Red Dead Redemption have priority over Braxwolf and co. at the moment.

Featured image by Matt Malone on Flickr

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