LOTRO – A Beautiful Pea-Green House

This week I’ve mostly been pottering about on Landroval, a US Lord of the Rings Online server. I played LOTRO a bit in Europe when it first came out, but I was another victim of the post-Bree North Downs/Lone-Lands slump which caused many a player to fall at the wayside back then. Hopefully I can get past that stage this time without falling into the same pit of ennui. So far, so good, and after about a week of getting bossed about by Rangers while doing all three of the prologues, I’ve managed to scrape together enough cash to buy my first home. I WAS going to write about the Autumn event, but unsurprisingly EVERYBODY has already done that, so I’m going to talk about my new house instead!

Player housing in Lord of the Rings Online is much less complex than in EQ2 or SWG, but that’s probably to be expected, as it was added in a patch rather than being a launch feature. I’m told that it is similar to the housing system added to Asheron’s Call, LOTRO’s pointy-looking older brother. Rather than being able to move objects freely, you only have (in a regular house) about 30 static “hooks” in which you can fix particular sorts of item. As any house decorator knows, that’s not a lot of space, and I’ve already run out of wall-space for my Halloween paintings and fishing trophies. Not being able to place items where we choose is a bit of a shame, as it removes the creative possibilities that have allowed decorators in EQ2 to build all manner of amazing rooms out of common household objects. In addition to furniture, you can also paint your walls, and even set a theme tune! Osgardh, Dwarven archaeologist, has knocked up some lovely pea-green paint, but the tune will have to wait.

LOTRO Housing Hooks

A few housing hooks.

Nevertheless, in spite of its simplicity, it’s still quite a fun system. The best aspect of LOTRO housing is that instead of each home being individually instanced, like in EQ2, you’re part of a neighbourhood of about 20 houses. In the middle of the neighbourhood are a few useful facilities such as a vault, and a furniture vendor. It creates a sense of place, without bringing about the sort of urban sprawl we saw in Ultima Online and SWG, I hope it is copied and improved upon by the upcoming crop of MMOs.

I’ve settled in the human-styled area to the south-east of Bree, near the entrance to the Lonelands. I picked that one mostly for location, but I did not spend too much time exploring the different possibilities as I do not intend to be living there very long. I will be upgrading to a larger home as soon as I can afford the seven gold, mostly because it has double the chest storage lots.

Chest storage is incredibly useful. Because your house is shared between all the characters on your account, and they all gain the power to teleport home once an hour, it is a great way to transfer items between characters if you have not yet bought the shared banking (which costs a hefty 1295 points for 20 shared bank slots.). Player housing, and the housing chests, are bought purely with good old-fashioned in-game gold.

LOTRO Bree Neighbourhood Housing 550x324

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood!

Neighbourhoods are a great idea, though the implementation could be better. In particular, it is terribly difficult to end up in the same neighbourhood instance as your friends. As they have a finite amount of space they fill up quite quickly, and there is no way to move between neighbourhood instances without having to give up your current home and buy another one at full price. That the ratio of small, middle, and guild-houses is set in stone also makes things tricky logistically if you want to get everyone you know in the same instance. Even if you’re lucky enough to have everybody online when a fresh neighbourhood comes into being, if you have more than 9 friends, someone is going to be stuck with a starter house. Still, with the newly F2P-nourished pace of development, I expect that housing will be getting looked at and improved.

It’s good to have another fall-back game that I don’t have to worry about subscribing to. Turbine does F2P right, and manages to get money out of me as a result.

LOTRO Osgardh And His Giant Goldfish 550x324

Green. That's what we're all about. And Gold.

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