Note: This is an old post I decided to revive and bring over to the blog from our Lost Archive.
Before we begin I’d like you to take a minute and have a good look at the screenshot I have uploaded. It is at the very heart and soul of this tale. It may not mean much now, but all shall become clear as you read on.
Now, in LotRO, you build your hero and you venture out into the rich world of Tolkien. Like any MMO game, there are quite literally thousands of quests for you to do. Many of which entail you spending most of your time running from Point A, to Point B, to C, and so on, either killing or gathering X amount of Y while the game’s NPCs who assigned the task in the first place stand around while you run and bleed and die. Some of these NPCs look fairly formidable themselves and could stand to either do the dirty work themselves or could at least help you. 9.99 (Etc.) out of 10 times they won’t. I could go on and on here, giving countless painful and even hilarious examples, but I’m going to focus on the one today. Now as I mentioned earlier, there are thousands of things to do in this game. But the problem is when you’re on the Quest-Writing Team or whatever group Turbine has for this sort of thing, and you’re required to plan LOTS of content for players, it’s really easy to run out of ideas, especially good ones. Pretty soon your brain begins to melt under the long hours of work and stress from trying to meet the deadline while working around what’s already been built into the game and you end up with objectives for players that are illogical and make absolutely no sense. Though I have to admit, some of it is done the way it’s done because it would be “too easy” for players otherwise and there needs to be “challenge.” Whatever the excuse may be, it’s not beyond human capacity to write up quests that meet those criteria and still make sense, but I guess that goes back to deadlines…
Yeah, I had some of you going there, sorry. As most of us know, none of this is true. Turbine is actually an evil overlord that secretly plots to grief its players and drive them to insanity.
“Oh come on, really?” some of you ask, “how can this possibly be true? How can you know that Turbine has set out to grief us?” Well, dear reader, please proceed.
In this tale I’m about to tell, I go to the infamous Goblin-Town–a location which the average Tolkien fan can tell you about. So if you haven’t figured it out yet, yes, the screenshot above was taken during my… ah… “adventures” in Goblin-Town. So let us now follow the adventure of my Elf Hunter, Eärlindor, as he journeys high into Hith Aiglin–the “Mist Peaks”.
Way up in the High Pass, there is a small outpost manned by an Elf from Rivendell and a few Dwarves. The Elf (in quasi-Tolkien lingo common in the game) tasks you to find an Elf Maiden who went to investigate a pack of Wargs in the mountains and she did not return. Now this Elf (I forget his name–heck, I forgot all their names) looks like he could be a decent warrior himself. He’s got a bow and sword, etc. but he’s content to stand there. “Okay, okay,” I figure, “he needs to stay at post for now and whatever. I’ll go look.” Long story short (I’m not here to talk about those particular details) you learn that the female Elf scout is being held captive by the goblins of You-Guessed-Where. Mr. Elf tells me that I must go and rescue her. “Now wait a minute,” methinks, “she’s your friend. Shouldn’t you at least come along and help?” But no, it’s one of those quests, so off I went. Little did I know the horrors would await me in Goblin-Town. Now let me tell you right off the bat I found out the hard way that GT is one of the worst places to quest in the game. It’s a huge, underground maze filled with goblins (duh) and horribly written quests which are longer than they need to be and make no sense. At least the ones that aren’t “Go and kill X number of whatever.” I went in there on 3-4 separate occasions with at least one other member of my Kinship and… well let me get to that part first. So my fellow Guardians of the Light and I storm Goblin-Town with the initial objective of rescuing the Elf Maiden from the dungeons, along with some other… ahem… “errands” as we shall comically name them (on the side, it is important to note the location in the screenshot is part of the main tunnel of GT).
Let me take the time to be perfectly clear and tell you we were NOT stealthy. We were anything but “soft and quick as shadows” as Gollum might say. Heck, I’m pretty sure we made Gollum vacate the premises. We couldn’t be any more loud if we wanted to be–we were frigging lost. So after killing over half the population of GT and pissing off the rest we finally find our way to the dungeons, and the Elf chick.
Now you guys had to see this next part coming a mile away. She refuses to be rescued until the other prisoners below are set free as well. “Okay,” says me, “I knew this was coming. No prob… I guess….” So we head farther down, killing dozens more guards, and we meet another Elf in a holding cell. He wants two things. First: he has an elaborate escape to plan……. oooookaaaayy…? Second: he wants us to talk to the goblin in the adjacent holding cell for some reason… what? Why would anyone in their right mind want to deal with goblins? Why is he in a cell in the first place? I’ll get what the goblin wants out of the way first because that bit is short. The goblin wants us to kill the guards and take 12 keys. By this logic one of those keys has to be his. Well, we make more noise and an even bigger mess than before and eventually find 12 keys. Surprise, surprise, none of them fit his cell door. The goblin screams that some other goblin he knew must have thrown away his key, so out of spite (by my interpretation) he wants us to… kill half a dozen trolls? By that point we pretty much say “Screw you,” and leave the goblin in his cell. (Incidentally, how come we can’t use the keys on the other cells? Gotta love video game logic.) Meanwhile, the Elf has an elaborate plan for an stealthy escape. At this point, THAT is incredibly pointless. We stormed the gates, got lost, and killed virtually everybody in GT. One can only imagine how the remaining goblins would be shrieking with rage at the top of their lungs, sounding warning bells and war drums; mobilizing their deeper armies and who knows what, only to be slowed by the piles of corpses we left in our wake. Anyway, we make THIS BIG of a mess and the Elf prisoner has a plan for a stealthy escape? (One thing I should note: it is virtually impossible to sneak through goblin town anyway.) So here’s the Elf’s plan. He wants us to find… a wooden stake….
Do you see where the screenshot above comes into play? Goblin-Town is FULL such rooms, tunnels, and chambers. There are literally thousands of pieces of wood and stakes and bridges and scaffoldings and torches and…
But no, it can’t just be any stake, it has to be a certain kind of stake–one… particular… frigging… piece of wood–which is located somewhere in the main tunnels. Again, there is plenty of wood to be had anywhere in GT. Especially in the main tunnels as you can see in the pic above. Heck, my character is a Master Woodworker. Why can’t I pull out my Forester’s Axe, lop a wooden beam right there in the dungeons, then carve into a nice sharp stick? So we get ourselves lost. Again. Kill even more goblins, and we still can’t find the stake the stupid, picky Elf wants. When we eventually found it and brought it back, the Elf wanted us to… are you ready for this?… stick it in a mound a dirt. I don’t think he even specified where. And like anything else in the game, the said mound is in a specific location. Maybe the Elf is going somewhere with this “stick in the dirt” thing, but as of now, I can’t see it. It’s probably still as dumb as it sounds.
Oh and I forgot to mention that most quests have an objective indicator on your compass. We never had a single objective arrow throughout that entire ordeal in GT. That’s part of the reason we were lost. It was at that point that I officially gave up. I have been to Goblin-Town on 3 or 4 different occasions. All of them back-to-back throughout the course of a week. And we still haven’t gotten that done. The Elves are still imprisoned in GT.
Hey, you know what? SCREW YOU GUYS!!! No wonder the Free Peoples are losing the War of the Ring! Because you guys are a bunch of picky idiots! I’ve busted my butt a hundred times over for you morons! You can rot in your cells for all I care! What’s more, I’M JOINING SAURON!!! HE WAS RIGHT!!!