And in the Dorkness, bind them.

The year was 2007. I was still fresh-faced from the disappointment I held in my little nerdy heart for a few other MMORPG’s that Will Not Be Named here Again.

I was tired of being lied to. I understood gaming companies had to really sell it to get the subscribers, and thus the cash, to pay things off, I really did. Look, Mr. programmer who spent hours making fighting chick’s rack perfect and realistically bounce has gotta eat too, right?

But selling it and then paying roughly $50 for a copy of the game, plus the monthly subscription–just to play for two weeks and be disappointed? It was weighing on me, man. It was getting tough. I didn’t realize it then but I was becoming an MMORPG skeptic. I still played MMO’s, don’t get me wrong. I still signed up for beta and to this day? I still play them. But I eye them far more warily than I used to and it’s rare that I write about them. By the time I get around to writing about them I find I am usually already disenchanted.

But I’m ahead of myself–let’s go back to 2007. What happened then?

Elven starting area.

Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar was released. A massively multi-player online role playing game set in the universe of J.R.R. Tolkien, riding on the back of a huge wave the movies had set to motion. It was a good move by Turbine, actually. Here was a beloved setting many adults and children were familiar with, rife with all the markings of a great backdrop for a game. Earlier that year I got the chance to beta test the game and I did.

For a week I played, I really enjoyed myself. There were glitches of course and several things were not even yet implemented this early in the game (those would come later on) but I found myself liking what I’d seen so far. I didn’t have the same parts and video card in my computer then, that I do now, and couldn’t run the game full blast. It was still pretty.

Then the game was released and that was the end of beta. I asked my husband if I could play, who had also beta tested the game as a hobbit burglar. Unfortunately, he did not enjoy the game as I did. On top of that, we were in a financially crappy time–he couldn’t see a point in purchasing a game he did not enjoy and I couldn’t see me pushing him to spend money we needed for other things–like food, bills and so on.

So the game was set aside. I heard about it through good blogging friends of mine, Eve and Lillith. Art, posts about–all these things reminded me of the game and I never truly forgot about it. Life simply wasn’t going to let me play it when I wanted to. Several other games came out and one thing distracted me from it and another and another. One year went by, then two, then three.  I’d almost put Lord of the Rings Online aside entirely until–

I got a little e-mail that informed me this year, Lord of the Rings Online was going free and that you could sign up for the beta…

So I did.

Now…I’m doing a bad thing by telling you I got into the beta. Yeah, I know. I’m pretty rebellious. Last week? I totally ate three peanut butter cookies while baking them. Just sayin’. So,  technically, even though I am no longer playing the free-to-play beta, I am under the NDA not to discuss it. Let me just say I am aware I am breaking the sacrosanct of NDA and am fully ready to accept my punishment.  (Dear Turbine, please send a reasonable Aragorn look-alike to dole out my punishment. Please.)

But I have to tell you this because it was the free-to-play beta that convinced me to to finally purchase a subscription to the game. And to make the deal sweeter the monthly sub is a might cheaper than most MMORPG’s out there if you buy a package payment plan. AKA: Purchase 3 months for $ 24.

I do not regret my decision one bit, despite the fact it’ll go free to play this fall. And I plan on continuing to support LotRO even after it goes F2P.

Why?

Because the game has not degraded over the years but has improved, significantly. There is player housing, horses, fishing, hobbies. Many, many, many more quests than I ever remember there being. There are two new

A beautiful day for a walk in the Shire.

extremely fun classes and the community (which reminds me so much of the Star Wars: Galaxies peoples when the game was in its golden years)is a fantastic, amazingly patient, helpful, well spoken bunch of fellow gamers. It truly outshines any MMORPG community I’ve been in for a long while.

I can download the high-res version and play this game with everything cranked max. Lighting, shadows, Anisotropic hiked up, water, water reflections–you name it, I’ve got it turned all the way up. It’s gone from pretty to pretty-damn-gorgeous.

Right now, at this very second on the Lord of the Rings forums and in the game chat channels–there are countless debates about how the game will go down hill once it goes free. There are people saying the community will slide down hill. That paying members will stop paying and that the game will never be the same.

I’m here, breaking the NDA of free-to-play Beta, understanding I might have it taken from me (that’s okay though) to let you know it was because of the F2P that I decided to purchase a sub. It was because of the community that I wanted to support this game and hope to continue doing so. I wanted to remind fellow subscribers that, not all bad things will come out of the F2P.

And to let you guys know, seriously? If you played the first year and quit–if you’ve never played but always wanted to–do it. Go check out the free trial. Go sign up for the F2P beta right now.

I never go back to old games. That’s just how I work. Once the magic is gone I simply can’t. It’s done. Ask anyone I’ve met and follow my posts about the MMORPG’s I’ve played, and you’ll notice that once I’m done that’s just it.

Here I am, three years later, and I’m back to Lord of the Rings Online and loving it to pieces. That in itself, should be incentive enough for you just try it.

And hey, if you do?  Send a hello to Bluecup Bumbleroot, Landroval server, let me know what you think of it and if you need any help.

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