A farewell to LOTRO, and other musings

I took some time tonight to pack up my housing items in LOTRO. It’s silly for me to log in every 5 or so weeks to pay 55 silver/week rent to keep the house. I just don’t have time to play MMOs anymore, and don’t see that changing while I’m working two jobs. I have a Lifetime sub to LOTRO so I can still pop in and dabble when I do find a few spare minutes, but for now it’s a game, not a world. I don’t need a house in a game. I need houses in worlds.

I have to confess, it all felt really melancholy. I miss the days of escaping to another world, a virtual world. But those days have passed me by in a number of ways. There’s my personal situation: no time and all that. But today’s MMOs just seem to be games and not worlds. EVE is the only exception that I really know about, and damn would I love to have the free time needed to play EVE seriously.

Packing up my LOTRO house had me thinking back to our guild halls and my houses in Ultima Online. That was a real world, at least to me and my guildies. There was a society in that game. There were good people and bad people. There was a dynamic economy. Towns sprang up and faded away over time. Inns would appear and be the ‘in’ (ha! See what I did there?) place to hang out for a while, until they went out of fashion and some new place sprang up.

We’d hang out, throw parties, do battle, make alliances, corner markets, have weddings… we did all kinds of things back then. It was more than a game, it was a place.

Back then, cyberspace was coming, and my then-girlfriend and I would kid about being an elderly couple sitting on the front porch in rocking chairs, jacked in via implants. But cyberspace fizzled, the same way virtual reality and the space program did. Cyberspace seemed like it’d become a place. But that never happened and now the very term seems silly.

I also saw that the beta for WOW Cataclysm is coming soon, or maybe has even started. That has me wanting to reinstall WOW to take one last look at those places where I used to hang out so much, before Blizzard plows them under to build anew.

But then I realized, you can’t go home again. Sitting out in Westfall in the wee hours, chatting with friends, having a beer or three in real life while I did so, watching the lighthouse’s beam sweep across the sea… if I went back now, it wouldn’t be the same as what it was; it’d just be depressing. Like when I go to visit my mom in my home town and pop into my old haunts and realize I’m just another tourist weekending in The Hamptons. I’m not the only one who moved on, and there’s no longer a “there” there.

Anyway, enough of being maudlin.

So LOTRO is packed away. Life is crazy hectic and unpleasant. And I keep buying (mostly single player) games. I mentioned this on Twitter today and got a few people who said they do the same thing. The busier I get, the more games I buy. Not the more games I play, mind you. I get them home, find 20 minutes to tear off the shrinkwrap and fire them up, then never get back to them.

So why do I keep buying them? I guess it’s the only way I have to feel connected to this hobby that used to be such a huge part of my life. I want to play, but can’t. Somehow the retail therapy of buying a new game scratches that itch for a few moments. I bought Monster Hunter Tri the week it came out. Played it once. 3D Dot Heroes this week. Booted it up, looked at it, haven’t had time to go back. Red Dead Redemption is coming next week. Bought the Humble Bundle of Indie games and never even got around to downloading it. Bought the Civ IV collection from Steam last night…those I did install but never booted up. And so on and on… so much wasted money!

The one bright spot right now is the iPad. I’m still playing that silly Godfinger game; it’s something I can spend 5 minutes on 3 times a day and feel like I’m making some progress, though towards what, I don’t know. When I hit level 50 I’ll just stop playing probably. Ditto We Rule. Log in a few times a day for 2-3 minutes…it’s a nice break. And a bunch of other simple fun games that I can play for a couple minutes in bed before lights out.

This patch will ease up eventually. I took the whole week of E3 off, to follow all the news and to recharge my batteries. So that, at least, I have to look forward to. And come hell or high water I’m going to find some time for Red Dead Redemption next week! I’m about at the limit of what I’m willing to do for my day job. We’ve all been doing ~12 hour days for a couple weeks (and then I have my blogging job once that’s done) and at this point it’s just starting to feel like management is taking advantage of us. Getting through an unexpected crunch is one thing, but those can’t be permanent hours (at least not without a juicy raise or some fat bonuses!)

Anyway, that’s what’s going on at Dragonchasers HQ. If you’re someone I used to chat with on Twitter or in blog comments, please forgive my disappearance. It just can’t be helped. I do miss my social networking chums, though. Hope everyone is doing well out there!

10 thoughts on “A farewell to LOTRO, and other musings

  1. Think positive. You have a lifetime sub, and housing instances are plentiful and to me, my house was never more than a fast travel spot full of trophies.

    Given the speed LOTRO moves ahead at the moment, you might be interested in playing again once they add some major new content. Notice my pessimism that this will be anytime soon.

    *puts on spectacles, fakes an austrian accent and tells Pete to lie down on a couch*

    “So you have so many games, and keep buying new games, but have no time? You fear to leave and disappoint the people you played with?
    The unconscious mind is trying to tell you something, Mr. Smith. You need to let go of your gaming past. You won’t lose your gaming buddies. Go ahead and read some of the latest fantasy/scifi/adventure novels instead. The gaming phoenix does not get reborn if you constantly stir in the ashes. This analysis is for free, as you have no oedipal complex nor issues with your phallic phase or early childhood. All in all, your mind is so healthy and normal that I am bored! :)”

    P.S.: Unless Twitter shuts down or becomes part of Facebook, I will still be there within the next years! 🙂

  2. I have similar sentiments, Pete. Am in and out of We Rule(reviewing that shortly) while spending a bit of time in WoW(on the Mac now) and very little single-player gaming. But I am putting time aside for Red Dead’ as it’s a game & setting I have been waiting for – so glad it’s rockstar that have come up with the goods!

    Maybe we could posse up and go hunting some wildlife soon?

  3. @longasc – Thanks for the free consultation and the chuckle. 🙂 Both were very much needed.

    While LOTRO was my example, and it actually is the best realized ‘world’ still set on terra firma these days, my angst-filled moping was directed at the MMO genre as a whole. MMOs are turning into a kind of sport. People gather (in towns), form teams (groups or raids) and go play a match (hit an instance). There’s no world there. Towns are a lobby, really.

    Even as recently as when WOW launched, before it became beyond-the-geeks popular, there’d be nights when I never left Stormwind. The Inns had people in them, sitting at tables drinking virtual beer, telling (in-game) stories and getting to know each other. Long-form RP events were happening that everyone would come to know about. Open world PVP happened because it was fun, not to amass points or gain anything.

    Part of it is the Achievement Culture that we live in these days, I guess. Every activity has to “get us something” and just being fun isn’t enough.

    @DM Osbon – What platform are you getting RDR for? I’m going PS3 for this one; I think there’s a co-op patch coming after launch so yeah, maybe we could head out on a hunt at some point. 🙂

  4. I know the feeling. Maybe my recent complaints about GearScore in WoW haven’t been about that at all. But about my lack of time to be able to commit to avoid that kind of atmosphere. It sucks, the growing up and out of a hobby.

    I played DDO for four hours in a row yesterday afternoon, which was unheard of for me. I haven’t played an MMO for that long in months. And when I got done and logged off, I didn’t feel accomplished, I felt useless. I had done nothing and let time get away from me. Despite the fact that I had fun doing it.

    I’m not quite sure what that says about me, but I’m in the same boat you are: I keep buying games. My most recent purchase was Age of Conan. So now, I have AoC, Trine, Jade Empire, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Mario Bros Wii just waiting on me. Some have never even been touched.

  5. Yeah, maybe the over-retail phase is just part of a process of letting go? I wish there were a cheaper process, though. 🙂 And you reminded me that I bought Trine at Christmas and haven’t even booted it up!!

    I know that feeling of feeling like you’ve ‘wasted’ time though. On some level you say to yourself “Well, it was free time and I was having fun.” but on another level you’re thinking “I have so little free time…when I get some I should do something more relevant with it.” Well, I don’t mean to project my thoughts onto you, but that’s the inner dialog I go through.

  6. Sounds like you need to find another hobby for a bit than retail-therapy. I got into fish and reading fantasy novels for a while, that helped me avoid my retail therapy kick. Good luck with that though. Lotro is definitely gonna take a while to get interesting again, IMO.

  7. It matters not when Turbine releases southern Eridor in June or Rohan in December if one has not done Moria or Mirkwood yet. Its not lack of content when one has not done the content that is there now. Its lack of time.

  8. Yeah, this post wasn’t meant as a slam on LOTRO, by any means. As I said in a follow-up comment, it’s the best “world” feeling I get from MMOs that aren’t space-based (ie, EVE).

    The post was mostly just me belly-aching about not having enough free time to play games, and the fact that MMOs in general are so time-intensive.

    The point was that I was feeling sad because my lack of time was making it logical to give up my little cottage by the waterfall…

  9. This is why I go out of my way to find free games that are actually good, and if I spend money on games, I make sure they are used and/or on sale. I don’t have the free time for the games I do own (especially now that I finally have an XBox 360 with a few games to try, and a handful of Live Arcade games I got from work)… but at the same time, I do want to support those guys and companies who do good work. That’s a significant reason behind why I bought the Humble Indie Bundle.

    Maybe that just means that game devs are my charity of choice… which may or not be a good thing.

  10. …oh, and sorry for the double post, but I completely sympathize with the sadness for a few reasons. I, too, miss the notion of interesting online game worlds, and miss being able to dump a lot of time into a great game. The tradeoffs I’ve made in growing up have been worth it, but still, a bit of wistfulness for things that really were a source of happiness seems healthy and natural to me.

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