Wednesday, September 1, 2010

LOTRO To Bring Back Non-Instanced Grinding Groups?

The idea of forming up a group of players to go grind mobs somewhere is out of fashion these days.  LOTRO's coming shift to a free to play model may have the ironic side effect of bringing back the grinding group.  Like DDO, LOTRO will allow players to earn small amounts of Turbine Points (the cash store currency) by completing in-game tasks.  Unlike DDO, almost everything that a leveling player does in LOTRO is outdoors, in the non-instanced world. 

If you really want to spend an hour grinding slugs in the shire for ten cents worth of Turbine Points, you're going to have to deal with the fact that there are other players - possibly LOTS of other players, especially in the free starting areas - who want to finish the same kill deed.  If you group up, everyone gets credit for every kill and everyone gets done faster.  If you don't group up, it's a race for spawns and everyone takes longer. 

(I don't know whether this has changed since 2007, but back in the day the slugs shared spawn points with non-aggro gnats that weren't needed for any deeds.  The result was that the swamp would be overrun with gnats that no one wanted to waste time killing because someone else might snag your share of the slugs while you were fighting gnats.) 

In fairness, this type of grinding group won't necessarily instill the kind of community values or grouping skills that old school players wish would be more prevalent amongst the solo-questing generation.  The fighting will be trivial, and the threshold for booting someone will be high, simply because someone who spends 90% of their time in your group AFK is still more useful than the same player spending 10% of their time taking your mobs.  Then again, some players might take the opportunity to get to know their new comrades, and might even get into the habit of looking for similar groups in future zones (or future alts in the same crowded newbie zones). 

It'll be interesting to see whether this shift affects interests in grouping amongst the mid-level community in LOTRO.  Developers have tried all manner of incentives to get leveling players into groups, but perhaps PAYING them pennies per hour was the answer all along. 


Yeebo said...

I've wondered that too. It seems like the end result may be a very EQ style grind focused game for totally free players existing in parallel with the paid quest based game.

The pace you level purely on mobs is really slow in LoTRO. Back in the day, I hit the cap (50) by grinding out my last two levels. I needed a ton of hides to finish out my tailoring, figured it would be a little more rewarding if I was getting XP at the same time. I can't remember how long it took, but I could swear it was at least a week and a half of evenings.

docholidayj said...

I can see it now - Slug raid forming in the Shire :)

I'm sure some will do this but I think the return isn't quite worth the effort unless you already need the deed for a trait.

Keen said...

Do you have a link where I can read up on this?

Green Armadillo said...

@Keen: Here's a site that has the TP values of deeds from the beta.

The other info in this post is a combination of my experience in the game at launch (when there WAS serious competition for many low level kill deed spawns) and conjecture. If players were willing to tolerate camping mobs just to complete the deeds for traits back in '07, I'm guessing that free players will be even more tolerant when there are Turbine Points at stake.

I guess one thing to add is that there are actually a few kill deeds that call for killing trolls and other critters that are hard or impossible to solo at level. I don't think there are any of these in the starting areas, but there are trolls at the end of the Lone Lands (probably around level 30 or so) and usually one or two per zone after that. These areas won't be entirely trivial to farm for kills, even with a couple of players.

Let me know if there's other information you're looking for, but I think I've covered most of what we can know for certain before we see how players react on live.