One of the safest ways to make me miss an MMORPG and make me want to jump back in, is when I see beautiful screenshots by active players. I love taking screenshots myself and browsing through old albums makes me feel very much like looking back on events that have happened in real life. I think that’s when games are at their most powerful: when you live the in-game experience and are fully immersed in the environment. The same is true when you get fully engaged in guilds and other social groups of course, although the single-player experience still has a lot to offer in MMOs that allow you to go solo.
Coming across a new twitter account by fledgling LOTRO player Burcwyn, I was reminded of the power of screenshots this weekend. Burcwyn has a great eye for capturing atmosphere and story, and LOTRO remaining my favorite MMO that I’m not playing, his screenshots sent a pang of nostalgia for Middle Earth through my system. I have written before on the magic of this particular game so it’s wonderful watching new players discover it for the first time. I hope he keeps up his Flickr gallery in the coming weeks and months!
While I’m still playing FFXIV and am woefully behind my own screenshot documentation there, I have been thinking of returning to LOTRO myself lately. It so happens that I was even gifted a co-workers lifetime account a year ago but have never found the willpower to start over with a new character on there. It was bad enough leveling my Loremaster past Moria the first time, I really don’t think I can start from scratch. The much bigger issue I have however is that nobody I know is really playing LOTRO regularly anymore.
The game is so many expansions ahead of me that it’s really overwhelming and I’ve never warmed to the slow, static combat. The only thing that would get me to play again would be a steady, committed group of another 2-3 like-minded players which can keep the same playtimes as me and remain serious about it. Which is essentially why I’m not playing LOTRO and never will be playing it for more than a split-second maybe, which I would likely spend in the Prancing Pony playing my lute.
It is what it is. Nobody I know of keeps up regular MMORPG commitments anymore, let alone appointment gaming. Some groups start off with enthusiasm and dwindle away within a fortnight. They fall apart because of playstyle differences and different advancement speeds, or whenever another title happens to release an expansion that needs to be played desperately. MMORPGs are at best a regular vacation resort for those of us who still love them. We return every now and then but it’s rare that somebody we used to meet is vacationing there at the same time.
Alas, the screenshots and memories persist. Middle Earth remains beautiful and whoever gets to dip into its magic for the very first time is in for a treat. Enjoy it while it lasts, I say.