_en·nui (än**?**w??, än w?**?**)_ Link to heading

noun Link to heading

weariness and dissatisfaction resulting from inactivity or lack of interest; boredom Link to heading

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, and it’s been about equally as long since I’ve played LOTRO for any significant amount of time. It’s also been a busy month, with swine flu in our house, work obligations ramping up for the busy season, family visits, you name it. It hasn’t exactly been a conducive environment for sitting down to play a game for a few hours. Even though I haven’t really had a decent amount of time to log in, I haven’t really felt the desire to, so in this article, I wanted to explore some of the reasons I feel that way, and see what the community thinks. I’ve seen a few other blog postings in a similar vein over the last few weeks, so I know I’m not alone out here.

First thing’s first. I love LOTRO. I love being able to explore Middle Earth, I love the mechanics of being a Minstrel, I love my kinship, and I’ve had a blast playing here for the last few years. However, after Book 7 was released, I felt as if there was a huge difference in the game I was playing compared to the game I was playing before Moria and Book 7.

Casual vs. Hardcore: Which Side of the Line? Link to heading

I honestly don’t know. I feel that I’m a casual player, but I also tend to do things in a hardcore fashion. I don’t really raid or do PvMP (or PvP of any kind really, in any game), but I do spend a decent amount of time playing whatever game it is that has caught my fancy. This is an important aspect to examine as we explore why I, and others, have become bored with LOTRO as it stands now.

My Minstrel is max level, Supreme Master in both Woodworking and Forester, just a little ways to go for Kindred with the WW guild. The traits that are the most useful are at 9 or higher, and she has great gear for the time being. Three pieces of Radiance, full Song-Callers, and most of the Poet’s set. She’s Kindred with Iron Garrison (Miners/Guards), and with Lothlorien.

I also have a 60 Hunter SM Scholar, and then various lowbies scattered around the lower levels.

Depending on whose definition you choose to use, I could be either hardcore or casual. For me, I don’t like to label myself, but at the same time, it’s important to take into consideration that in a lot of circles, because of the time and effort I’ve gone to on my characters, I’d probably be considered borderline hardcore. However, if I absolutely have to place a label on my gaming style, I would like it to be casual-hardcore, since I don’t really raid, and don’t pvp, but love to play the more casual aspects of the game, like leveling, crafting, and general questing. I just spend a lot of time doing it. :D

Grinding My Life Away Link to heading

After Book 7 hit and I had finished the epic quest line, I decided that my goal was to reach Kindred with Lothlorien and earn enough gold leaves for the Minstrel jewelery set. By this point, I had already gotten bored with running Radiance instances over and over again, not to mention dealing with the repair bills. (Even though I play for quite a long period of time, I don’t really amass gold that much. I usually only have 2-3 on me at any given time unless I grind it out.) So, I started to run the repeatable quests in Lothlorien, since that’s the only way to get rep and the shiny gold leaves. Over, and over, and over, and over, and over… ad infinitum. I didn’t do it every time I logged in, and tried to intersperse other activities into the grindfest like my crafting, helping kinmates with their epic quests, things like that. It just wasn’t enough though. Once I finished Kindred and had enough leaves to get the jewelery, I felt like I had hit a wall.

I took a few days off from the game in hopes that a short break would revitalize my LOTRO love. It didn’t. I logged back in and found that after all of that, there really wasn’t much for my Minstrel to do, and there was no way that I was going to go through the same grind so soon for my Hunter. Even leveling my lowbies didn’t sound appealing. Not only had I hit a wall, but the wall was hitting me back.

So What’s The Big Deal? Link to heading

Once I had done just about everything I could do on my Minstrel that was new or exciting, there really wasn’t much else to do but the same old, same old. As a self-defined casual-hardcore player, which there really are a lot of (you know you’re out there), I ran out of things to do that piqued my interest. Now, I’m not an ADD-gamer in any way, shape, or form, meaning that I don’t have to have content thrown at me at a constant rate in order to keep playing. I just like there to be a variety of things to do that are fun and interesting. After working all day, I look forward to coming home, spending time with my husband playing a game we both love, exploring Middle Earth together and accomplishing new things. I wasn’t feeling that during Book 7, and I just wasn’t feeling it after accomplishing my goals in Book 7.

It can be argued that I may have rushed through the content. I may give you that point. However, I know from reading the forums and other blog posts in the community that I’m not the only one who feels that way. Part of the problem as well could be that due to the fact that Book 7 was supposed to be released with MoM, and not as a seperate content update, that it wasn’t really designed for a seperate content update as well as it could have been. I can totally get on board with that.

However, the Big Deal is that because things went down with Book 7 like they did, a lot of players felt that they had hit a wall, just as I did. A lot of players logged out of LOTRO, and either went back to old standbys like WoW or FFXI, or tried new games. This isn’t exactly good for Turbine. I know in my case, I went back to FFXI after a long absence, and found myself loving every minute of it. Squenix has made changes to the game for the betterment of the more casual player (please note that the definitions of casual vs. hardcore mentioned above do not apply to FFXI. It belongs to a class all it’s own, and I would be considered an EXTREMELY CASUAL player there), and have made it easy to log on, do what you want, and call it a day with a minimal amount of grind.

Currently on the official forums, there is quite a large debate about Book 8 introducing more gear-gated content, and the ever continuing flamefest between hardcore vs. casuals. What I haven’t really seen anyone talk about though is the content side of things for people who don’t raid or PvMP. What do you do when you get to max level?  What do you do when you get bored with leveling low level alts? What do you do when you run out of content?

What Now? Link to heading

I’m not done with LOTRO, not by a long shot. I still log on once or twice a week, and I still play with my Sunday static group. I’m still deeply invested in OTG, the kinship I belong to, because it is an awesome group of people. Me and LOTRO aren’t anywhere near done yet. I just don’t feel the desire to log on every day for a few hours like I used to.

I’m looking forward to Book 8. I read through the release notes for Bullroarer tonight, and I’m interested to see the changes it will bring. (I also have a grumpy Champion in my house though, so I’m not really looking forward to that part of it. Sorry, hon, but healing you with -30% incoming healing or more… well… I’ll still have your back, or at least as much of it as I can heal.) I’m sincerely hoping that Book 8 will give those of us who fit into the casual-hardcore mold more to do when we log in that will interest us instead of running the same quests over and over and over again. I can’t wait to see what the next epic quest book gives us, and am greatly interested in where the story goes from here.

Last night, I had a great time running through Book 2 and 3 with our Sunday static group on some of our lowbie alts. That was genuinely fun, though I’d rather attribute that to the fact that our group is awesome, and we have a blast together, rather than say the content was fun. It was the same content we’ve all been through multiple times over. What made it a good time was the people involved, which is one of the main reasons I’m still here.