Monday, August 31, 2020

The Challenging DDO/LOTRO Re-Onboarding Process

I reinstalled the two former-Turbine MMORPG's I used to play 5+ years ago in order to apply some generous pandemic promo codes that expire today.  I have not been following these games closely at all and understand there might be any number of technical or pandemic challenges contributing to the issues I encountered. With that said, I would be very hard pressed to figure out how to get back from where I am now to functional if I wanted to do so.  I.e. it's entirely possible this post demonstrates remarkable ignorance, but it represents an authentic experience.  

(The LOTRO portion of this story actually happened chronologically second because its client is bigger than DDO's, but basically everything in this section was also true for DDO.)


  • Turbine's Patcher may not be any better or worse than any other patcher, but the game makes it looks like their file structure is such that it needs to manually and painfully update tens of thousands of files, even on a clean download. (Maybe everyone else does the same thing but just doesn't provide as much detail.)
  • There is no information in the account page to indicate which server(s) you played on. You select servers from the launcher, but the launcher doesn't seem to know where your characters are either. So, you have to pick servers, load the game and see if that's where your character(s) are, and I think you then need to fully close out of the client and reopen if you need to check other servers. At least there are fewer servers now....
  • ... Except that my LOTRO main appears to have been from a server (Vilya I think?) that closed several years ago.  Supposedly these characters are saved in a transfer queue somewhere, but they took down the transfer queue 2 weeks ago due to server issues, with no ETA for the feature's return. It was way harder than it should be to find this info, and the net result is that I don't have a character at the moment (hopefully not forever but who knows?).
  • The free stuff they gave out for the promotion consists of a coupon code, which I entered and the system says it accepted. I already owned significant portions of this content and there doesn't seem to be an easy way to view what I own and what I don't (nor do I know if viewing it on a level 1 character due to the aforementioned missing server issue impacts what I can see).
  • A number of other old mid-level expansions were also available, discounted to a nominal price. I apparently had over 5000 Turbine Points when last I played LOTRO and definitely already purchased some of the expansions, so it appeared there was only one I needed (Helm's Deep, which was indeed after I stopped playing). Again, I could find no way to see the full list of what exists versus what I own.
  • I don't quite get the point of the nominal fee for some of these unlocks. If you've ever paid it was trivial, and I think you can even earn this much currency in a relatively short period of time as a free player.  On the off chance that you on-boarded an actual new player why would you want to have them hit a wall if they for whatever reason used the promo code but couldn't find the expansion sales or didn't get the points in time?


  • As noted, everything I wrote above was equally true for DDO, except that my primary server (Cannith) still exists so I did eventually manage to find my character.
  • Again, coupon code appeared to work, there were two expansions that I know I didn't own for nominal prices, and I can only assume I now own all the things since there is no more quest content listed in the shop.
  • Technically this is Dungeons and Dragons' fault, and not Turbine's, but I had a thoroughly customized "munchkin" character build and I have very little idea how to get it up and running again, if it would still be functional, how I would continue from this point, etc. All of the "enhancements" were redone into a skill tree format, with several trees per class and also a number of trees that appear to be available to everyone.  All MMO's have some challenges helping people who have been gone for years relearn their character, DDO just has the quirk that who knows if the character actually functions.
  • (If I remember correctly and from what I can figure out from the character sheet, I started with a level of Rogue to grab some of their unique skills - this was common advice at the time - and then went for a specific Ranger/Monk build that allows the use of two longswords as light path self healing monk weapons.)  
  • (More odd rules surrounded progression - my character was due to gain a new level but you were better off not advancing until you were forced to in order to not miss out on exp, because advancing greys out potential experience from missions. Thus, I now face a somewhat significant and not readily reversible choice almost immediately. Also, I played this before there were epic levels, and I'm not sure if I should be gunning for those, if they're balanced so I would need to do reincarnations in the "heroic" levels first, etc.)  
All this may be moot because who knows if I'm ever going to try to play either of these games - I guess this is just another variation of how you can't come "home" again.

1 comment:

  1. I did the same thing with DDO a couple of years back. I found that so much had changed that it was better to start a new character to relearn things. After I took that character into low epic, I was able to pick up my old stable of characters and start playing them effectively.

    As far as the new enhancement trees go, just remember that it's dead easy to respect. Changing out feats is more involved, but a great deal of your power comes from the tree. You often even want to change how your points are allocated as you go up in levels. For example my current character on the hardcore server started with a tree that works well with repeaters, and switched over to a heavy crossbow tree at level 6 when he got the last feat he needed to support it.

    Also, unless you hate Gothic Horror, Ravenloft is an absolute must have expansion. Great storylines, great gear. Sharn is far from terrible, but RL knocked things comletely out of the park to my tastes.


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