Saturday, November 29, 2014

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Message, Spock?"

One of the best things that can happen in LOTRO is an impromptu concert in Bree:

Yes, the mini-Reds are in among the crowd.

I watched my kids having a blast listening to the concert while they tried to stump me with the toons the band was playing.  (One of the tunes was Birthday by The Beatles, but I'm old enough to remember THAT one.)  This is one of those moments in LOTRO where you just wonder why this has never been appropriated for other MMOs; it brings the world to life in a unique and vivid way.

Five minutes after this screen shot, I had my answer.  A troll came running into the midst of the concert, trying his best to disrupt it.*

I shook my head; I could only imagine what would happen if people tried to do this in a game where trolling is far more frequent.

Oh wait, we do.

The irony about this is that the Serenity Now Funeral Raid highlights the best and worst parts of MMOs. You have a community getting together to honor one of their own, and you have the community being ripped apart by people who have no sense of respect.

MMOs need more community building, but it also can't be forced.  Forced community building goes over about as well as forcing people into dailies just so they can gear up to raid.** Players have to want to get together to do cool things in-game, in a public space, for the culture to change. A friend who used to play MMOs was a member of The Bards of Azeroth (Wyrmrest Accord), who would put on poetry readings in Thunder Bluff. A friend of Navimie's married her real life fiance in-game in 2013. When the old tree form was going away just prior to Cataclysm, there was an impromptu Farewell to the Trees parade.

A spark is needed, but will has to be behind it. The willingness and desire to make a difference, and to keep trying.

Unless all that people want out of MMOs is to kill things. That's fine, of course, but MMOs could be so much more. Why settle?

*It didn't work; everyone put him on ignore.

**See: Mists of Pandaria.

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