Battle In The Ettens … Ahead Half Steam
The ‘Battle in the Ettens’ event is in full swing …if you can call it that. As the regular reader of this blog will know Turbine are organising a series of GM sponsored PvMP events this weekend across all servers. Sounds good right? Well it’s gone down about as well as a glass of curdled milk with the PvMP community. Don’t take my word for it though, here are a few choice quotes on the events from players:
Seriously? How much planning was needed to have someone log in for a couple minutes and wander around aimlessly? The joke that is this “event” is on par with the joke that is Turbine’s approach to rank farming and Pay to Win. You’re so far out of touch with what your customers actually want its embarrassing.
Whoever would have guessed…? A LotRO Store Sale Week entirely focused upon selling PvMP-related (especially Creep-related) items, occurring so strangely at the same time as this incredibly rare “interactive event” in the Ettenmoors!
Turbine says “let’s do something fun!” and players start raging instead 🙂
So far (on Gladden) 3 GM’s showed up to a lag fest at LC. All kinds of freeps, that rarely play PvP, came out to kill them. The GMs literally lasted 5 minutes before they left. There was no interaction. It wasn’t really a visit at all. Maybe they didn’t like dying or they couldn’t take the lag. Hopefully today they may actually join a group and really play.
Landroval, around 1:40 AM EST, when most players have logged for the night, a GM shows up.
GM pretty much stands there, does nothing but die, but makes sure they’re wearing a new skin (available in the LOTRO store, of course!), and then logs 20 minutes later.
It did nothing but piss people off on both sides when they realized it was nothing but an ad for the new skins in the store.
Really, Turbine, will you ever learn?
GM showed up on Landy after 2 am est. Meaning most of us had logged for the night. Our event consisted of the GM warg standing around saluting the freeps until they thankfully grey barred him to death.
Why All The Hate?
Let me start off by saying that I think the premise behind these events is a great one: GMs interacting with players in the game itself and providing a little some different from the norm. Unfortunately these events haven’t lived up to this ideal in any way.
The first major problem is that the GMs are very restricted in what they can do. The guidelines they have been given apparently preclude spawning any unusual mobs e.g. Mamaluks, dragons, balrogs, etc. The reason for this is said to be because it may adversely affect server performance. It’s a fair point to make and I do recall that the old Codemasters events where these sort of things happened did sometimes result in horrendous lag in the Moors (and occasionally elsewhere in the game too). However, I would have thought that this would be more to do with the presence of a large number of players congregating in one area for the event.
Another problem with these events has been that the GMs who do enter the Moors don’t seem to interact with the players in any meaningful way. They have performed the odd emote here and there, but nothing beyond that. Again back in the Codemasters days the GMs taking part in these events would actually speak to players using the in-game chat channels to direct the flow of play or take requests from players or even just have a laugh and a joke.
Next on the list is the length of these events. Somewhere between 5-20 minutes seems to be the average we have seen so far. I hate to sound like a broken record, but the Codemasters events could last much longer, sometimes an hour or more. That length of time made it feel like an event rather than a short visit.
There’s more I’m afraid. Once we get past the fact that no unique mobs are being spawned or that the events are lasting mere minutes or that the GMs aren’t interacting with the players in a meaningful way we come to what might be the most disappointing aspect of all. When the GMs appear for these events they appear as rank 15 creeps. Creeps like you and me. Only they are rank 15 and wearing the new skins that are coming with Update 5 on Monday. This is disappointing because, well frankly we know what a warg or a Reaver or a Blackarrow looks like. It isn’t anything special. Appearing as a huge troll or a big spider or a balrog or something would be much more out of the ordinary and immediately grabs players’ attention.
An Advertising Exercise?
Some players have accused Turbine of staging these events in an effort to drum up sales for a current LOTRO Store promotion being run that sees creep buffs reduced in price. The fact that the GMs appear with the new skins equipped is also fuelling this suspicion.
Sapience addressed this concern directly saying that the events were actually originally supposed to take place before the sale around Thanksgiving (it’s an American holiday), but due to unforeseen complications it was pushed back and a date was chosen at random, which just so happened to coincide with the store sale.
Some people won’t believe that of course, but even if it weren’t true so what? If Turbine wants to advertise the store to us I would much rather it be done through events in-game that have the potential to be fun rather than a stale static splash screen.
The PVE Crowd Have Their Pitchforks Handy
The other component in this little drama has been the concern from some PVE folks that these events might negatively impact their game experience due to large crowds of people amassing in the Ettenmoors. To be frank I don’t have much sympathy for such concerns. As a regular PvMP participant I know how little the PvMP side of the game has received over the years. One weekend out of an entire year where the focus is on PvMP is hardly a major disaster for PVE now is it? The other 51 weekends of the year the game is all about PVE. Can’t we have one weekend?
Now if major events were to be held on a regular basis then yes this could be a serious concern, but we aren’t at that stage yet. Let’s not rush to panic over something that isn’t actually a major issue yet. If we ever do get to the point where these sort of events were commonplace then I would be the first to say that they should only go ahead if they don’t impact upon the PVE game.
Should Could Have Been
I’m a great believer in the adage “If you are going to do something, do it right”. These events had the potential to be so much more. These events could have been a major PR success for Turbine with some very fun action taking place in the Ettenmoors.
What PvMP players want to see is something to break them out of their usual cycle. They want the fantastic monsters to fight; they want the GMs to throw them through the air from TA to EC; they want to be one shotted by GMs; they want to see vast swathes of NPCs spawned on top of their enemies, and above all they want an evening to remember.
Two things spring to mind concerning this event:
- There simply wasn’t the resources to pull it off properly
- Turbine were a little too cautious in their implementation
One post on the forum alleges that the GMs taking part in these events are also working on other Turbine games and that there were only 5 GMs to activate these events across 29 servers. That the events are only lasting mere minutes also plays into this idea of a lack of sufficient resources. That doesn’t sound like a good recipe for a successful player intensive event to me.
On the second point we have had Sapience state that GMs have been told to log out if lag got too bad. Well lag gets bad in the Ettens most nights anyway, what difference would it make if it happens because of a GM event? The lack of monster spawns and the way the GMs have been interacting e.g. running around not doing anything or simply being ganked off the bat, suggests an overly cautious approach.
It was a great idea and I’m pleased Turbine have at least ventured into this space, but I hope they can do better next time. I hope there is a next time.