Saturday, May 7, 2016

Tweed Patches on a Leather Jacket

Been running around LotRO a bit. I'd just started on the latest expansion... then they released the latest latest expansion so I'm once again a few zones behind everyone else. So instead of spinning my wheel faster like a good little caged vermin I've instead slowly been falling back on the sole remaining valid reason to ever install LotRO, sightseeing in Middle-Earth.

Actually I tend to explore quite a bit in any game, and for products with such large development teams as MMOs you often find some odd half-built areas. In City of Heroes I once found a tunnel connecting two islands, a part of the game map apparently forgotten mid-way through development. It served no function. It was slower to run through it than just running across the ocean and there were no monsters or objects inside it. My character kept getting stuck on its floor because it had never made it into bug-testing. Not really complaining. The tunnel itself was a great idea. The lack of any functionality or purpose appended to it made it a ridiculous waste of processing power. One member of the design team had tried to insert some creativity into an otherwise painfully dull project and was likely axed halfway through this unconscionable act of quality.

LotRO has also benefited from some expert map design, often treating the player to scenic views of this or that quest area or quaint little nooks and crannies. Though Moria fell far short of most zones in this respect with its tangle of identical copy/pasted tunnels and textures by the kilometer, it too contained a few high points. Figuratively speaking of course, being, after all, a mine.
As you ride down from the center of Moria toward the Lower Deeps, if you take a little detour to the west (all the best stuff in Arda may be found to the West) you run into an area where the neatly terraced dwarf masonry runs into rock. Not flat into rock. Not a neatly, evenly, aesthetically measured transition. Great columns supporting the structures upon which you walked during your descent jut upwards from bare rock and a few outcroppings of dwarvish construction dot the cavern's walls.

Occasionally, some other player in LotRO will actually agree with the inevitable kvetching engendered by my visits into the game. To paraphrase one of them "the mapping team must want to strangle the content team."

As I remember this spot from a previous visit many a year ago, it was empty. Nothing had been done with it. Its promising dramatic setup as a transition point, as a border between order and chaos, civilization and nature, greedy delving and the deeps thereof, was left as barren as that tunnel in City of Villains. Now it's got a quest attached to it.

Can you guess what it is?
I'll give you a hint:
See that big fat rat-like thing in the picture? There are at least ten of the dopey things pacing back and forth in their stationary spawn locations along the crevasse. You kill them.

Ah, the glory of roleplaying.

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