The real Underhill Gang

There’s no drama like guild drama…

In answer to the question by one reader as to “how long was I gone” the answer is “over a year.” It is important to note, however, that my original reason for leaving LOTRO had nothing whatsoever to do with Turbine’s wonderful product itself. Instead what drove me away was what drives so many others away – guild drama.  Without going in to it too deeply suffice it to say that the guild drama amounted to the virtual equivalent of a pogrom/coup d’état among guild officers.  Regardless of the reasons, I pointed out at the time, you don’t treat people that way, virtual or no.  Upon my return I found most of the names changed, including one nom de plume which was an alt of an old friend.

Getting it all back…

The house I had was one of the deluxe houses, located adjoining the small party grounds in each Shire suburb. There was a time when it wasn’t the case, but changes occur, and apparently Turbine now lets the upkeep fees accrue until it reaches the cost of the property.  What apparently was not known, at least among my kinship, was that it is possible to get all your virtual belongings back simply abandoning the house, and stopping by the bank in Bree and talking to the escrow agent. There you will find your belongings in storage for the next 13 days. Contrary to both popular opinion, and misinformation that abounds amongst the many Lotro orientated sites among the blogoshere, there is NOT a 24 hour waiting period to buy another house.

Pie in the eye…

Those of our readers who are also our listeners know that Saylah spoke at some length on No Prisoners, No Mercy show 55 about her dissatisfaction with LOTRO.  Apparently she didn’t feel herself to be an essential part of the overarching story taking place in the War of the Ring by some of the simple tasks set the player – especially in the shire.  Prominent examples are the quests asking the player to deliver pies to npc customers while they are still hot.  While it is certainly understandable that delivering pies might not feel part of an epic story, it is that certain charm that first attracted me to the Shire. I remember finding Bag End and walking around with a large grin on my face, repeating the improvised mantra “I’m in Bilbo’s house!” 

Down on the farm…

In the beta, and extending in to LOTRO going live, many is the day you could find the farms in the Shire where crops can be grown filled with players pulling in a virtual harvest. There was (and still is) a real charm in a process where you can actually sew and reap crops, not to mention watch them actually grow (albeit swiftly – as in “time lapse photography” swift). Back in that particular day, growing crops not only paid for itself but also made a handy profit as well.  What eventually occurred was only to be expected then, and growing crops became far less lucrative with the development/community management team at Turbine noting that growing crops was never made to be a profit making enterprise. Shortly thereafter, at least on my time schedule, only the hale and hearty hobbit farms remained.

Dwarves – the REAL underhill gang.

Runi was happy to show me around.

I am still not sure whether it is a tribute to the immersive quality of Turbines art assets, or the severity of my phobia…when I first ventured into the mines of Moria I found myself feeling trapped if my map that could whisk back home was on cool down.  This usually only happens in places like Azeroth if I am trapped in the area with something particularly disgusting like giant spiders.  Over a year (real time) of adventuring in the highways and byways of Moria I find myself feeling much different about the place. After getting back in the swing of things with all the new changes (which didn’t take long) I found myself actually enjoying the place (I guess that was the whole point in the first place huh?) rather than feeling trapped.  Perhaps this is why I kept finding my mind drifting back to an underground waterfall in the suburbs just outside Thorin’s Hall. Using what are apparently one of the new one use maps, I made my way to the mountains that Thorin’s people call home. It took mere moments to find a kind dwarf that was happy to show me around the home lands of Thorin and company.

2 Stone Mark St., Dyrthdal - home sweet, virtual home

Down home, down under…

It was not long before I found that very homesteads that had caught my eye so long ago. There it was, nestled into the wall of the underground suburb built in a space so massive that it is difficult not to feel like you are still outside. The home sites near a waterfall, a quick trip to the nearby shops. But this still begs a question – why player housing at all?  Many games don’t have them, and if the developers are to be believed, players don’t demand them.  Yet I find there is a far different feel to a game that has some sort of player housing, no matter how meager.   In the virtual lands of Azeroth I often found myself lacking any sense of belonging; it was almost as if I was forever a virtual tourist.  Yet in virtual worlds bearing acronyms like EQ2 and Lotro, I find the player housing makes me feel very much a part of the world. 

Still, I find myself asking why do players seek out cavernous homes that can hardly be thought to bear the title “cozy”? In some cases they may be gathering places for large groups of people, but that is what Kinship houses are for in Lotro.  Do players find themselves attracted to large homes as a place to put all their accumulated virtual objects? There are bank vaults that are far more useful for that purpose.  Is it to show off virtual wealth and trophies to other players? Perhaps that is the intended purpose, but as often as I spent touring virtual homes in EQ2 it was only for the purpose of writing about them for Online Gaming Radio.  I have played LOTRO since beta and I can count on one hand the number of times I have encountered other players in one of the instanced suburbs in which I lived – and still have a thumb left over to hitch a ride, and another to pick my nose. Perhaps the large house is the object of so many desires to make one feel important in a virtual world. Perhaps it is the very antithesis of events akin to delivering pies in the shire. Still, there is something to be said for a smaller cozy home, with your family and dogs around you, hot coffee, warm cookies and lots of love – even though the home is small.

Oops…I think I drifted into my real life there.

 See you online,

Julie Whitefeather

(posted by the Webmaster for Julie Whitefeather)

2 Responses to The real Underhill Gang
  1. Chris
    March 23, 2010 | 4:24 pm

    If you haven’t completed the Volume I epic book quests, incidentally, you can now do them all solo. If you’re level 60 or higher, they’ll be a cakewalk because of the “inspired greatness” buff that’s given to solo players on these quests. But now at-level characters can also do the quests alone. If you’re a heavy armor class, it’s easier to beat on elite masters solo than it would be as a “squishie,” but I think it’s a great idea. Perhaps players like Saylah would now feel suitably “epic”: as a hero, you can accomplish awesome tasks without NPC assistance or players named “Omgwthbbq” whom you’d never seen before and would never group with again.

    And re: housing, yes, one can “give up” a house and then another player can buy it after just a few minutes’ delay. This has led to a number of forum posts offering to sell or buy kinship houses in desirable neighborhoods for in-game gold.

  2. Sr. Julie
    March 23, 2010 | 5:59 pm

    I started playing in Beta and realized the game was worth a lifetime sub before I got to live. Back then it was difficult to get the appropriate people together to do the epic book quests. I was trying to solo them when I was lower level before I took my long hiatus (I was level 54 when I stopped playing). I got to an epic quest somewhere outside Rivendell before I gave it up and moved on to other regular quests.

    I have heard that the game is much more solo friendly at lower levels. The kinship I am in does have a higher concentration of U.S. players than usual for a primarily Australian Kinship but I still found myself setting all the “book” quests aside.

    Yes indeed my main is a heavy armor Champion type. I find that once I get my two handed sword swinging I can usually take out a class one to two levels higher than my own. It looks as if I will have to go back and give the book quests a try again.

    The Kinship house that our kinship has had has been located outside Bree for a LONG time. However I didn’t know that there even were “desirable” neighborhoods…where might these active/desirable neighborhoods be located? I’ts always good to know where the center of the Lotro universe is located, aside, of course, from outside the Prancing Pony.