MMOG Crowd Control

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I love all your Experienced Points articles Shamus!

I had the good luck of starting World of Warcraft when they were still creating new servers at a brisk pace. I think I started back when there was still only 6 million. Starting out on a new server is the way to go. You might not be getting 3-4 gold per stack of copper ore, but you won't be playing by yourself.

Leveling is a fun and easy way to advance your character and become more powerful, but always, even in the best of circumstances--even on a newish server with a reasonably even spread--leveling has a devisive rather than a uniting quality. People get kicked out of guilds if they aren't progressing fast enough with the guild. If that friendly and skilled player that you had a lot of fun with and put on your friends list last week is now several levels ahead of you, or behind you, you might exchange tells now and again but basically you won't be playing together. Leveling also contributes heavily to database deflation where the game becomes smaller the more you play. In terms of social connectivity, there is no advantages and only consequences that come from a leveling system.

Finding a way to create good long-term development of your character without a leveling system is the first step. I bet Blizzard will be the first to do it successfully.

Shujen:
Simple solution:

Get rid of leveling.
We need more sandbox MMOs.

Agree completely. The whole point of MMOs from a design perspective seems to be that everyone is playing in the same world, and yet almost no games make any attempt to create a world. If all we get is a bunch of more or less scripted events in a more or less linear sequence, essentially a theme park, things can be done much more effectively in single player or conventional co-op. MMOs have a purpose, but simply recreating the single player RPG with thousands of players isn't it.

Frankly I think that the people who do, legitimately, ENJOY the grind the we get in most modern MMOs would be just as happy with well implemented versions of conventional multiplayer and centralized stat/achievement tracking. Just take the CoD model even further, and support it with addons etc, do matchmaking based on skill, exp, whatever and you've got the current MMO experience with much less overhead and a core design that allows better developed gameplay for the rest of us.

Shamus Young:
I was able to break the economy just by selling my excess herbs at the auction house.

How?

Surplus herbs just means plenty of cheap herbs for everyone to horde up. I don't play WoW, but I know the "economy" includes more important items like armor and weapons...

Balancing is easy, send a copy of the game to everyone who has an account, only the copy you send is for a console (360,PS3) and tell them that you are closing servers and there will not be online play for said game anymore, it is now a console only, single player RPG. When everyone complains about it tell them to sod off. ...did I mention I don't like MMORPGs? like at the start of Jak 2 when he said "I'm gonna kill " and then however you spell that dudes name, well that is my emotion when it come to MMOs, I hate them, wish they would go away forever. MMORPGs have made the industry realize that they can make stupid amounts of money with a mediocre game that has "lots of stuff to do/collect/kill" there was a lot of shit in Morrowind, and I didn't need to pay 15 dollars a month to keep playing. If a game has a part that is so hard that I have to find other people to play with me, it isn't worth the cd it's formated on.

Well, guild wars.. screw it.. every MMO debate I get into I always bring it up. Guild Wars does it correctly, well, if you want an MMO with a story it does. If not, well... you're probably playing WoW, no?

hansari:

Shamus Young:
I was able to break the economy just by selling my excess herbs at the auction house.

How?

Surplus herbs just means plenty of cheap herbs for everyone to horde up. I don't play WoW, but I know the "economy" includes more important items like armor and weapons...

I've never played either, but if you can't buy herbs at the local corner store I'd say that what he means is he could sell all the herbs he collected and make stupid amounts of cash from lazy pricks who think they are too good to go herb hunting. It's an auction, if six people need herbs and the bidding starts at one gold shit could easily go into hundreds if they have the money.

How would you keep the population balanced?

You could always take the Mabinogi approach and make field leveling fucking pointless from the get-go.

Alternatively, you could take the other Mabi approach and allow people to reset their levels. Personally, I think this was a genius decision on devCAT/Nexon's part. Rebirths are an IRL cash sink and (at least back in the day), a lot of vets would team up with newer players because no one really got past level 40 or so before rebirthing. There were really only one or two dungeons that were ideal for exp grinding anyway, but again, this was back in the day.

The answer is to put content of all levels in every zone. I've played games with some very, very big zones (the Karanas in Everquest 1 - actually, most every zone in EQ1 was pretty friggin' big. Planetside had some big zones too, as did EQ2.). Zones have been shrinking precisely because developers are all into the forced march based on your level. This is mainly because developers (surprise surprise) are technical people, and they are happiest when everything goes into a neat little box in a nicely constructed heirarchy.

Unfortunately for us, when implemented in an MMO design, that's the "simple, neat, and wrong" answer.

Make zones BIG and put content for low, mid and high levels in the same zones. Separate the content areas with natural barriers such as woods and such that only have paths through them, warning signs, etc. Then you can set up your quests so that people have reason to be in any of the zones instead of just being in the ones that are "their level".

Thinking about this, because most games have some kind of mentoring system for grouping, you'd be able to mix people of any levels for play together. It'd also be a great way for guilds to recruit.

Sounds like a trifling mess. I imagine the developers hope was that the higher level players would sod off & play something else, while a steady flow of shiny new gamers would wash up periodically. Unfortunately, MMOs have too much competition with newer games for that.

Oh and Lulzy is SO LUCKY. She hasn't made it to the Barrows quests yet, and Turbine's done and changed things now so she can solo through. That Great Barrows forced-grouping quest was a total buttkicker, generally requiring a very good group or a highbee to come help - preferably a rockin' tank. The stupid crawlers alone could wipe your group, never mind the bosses.

That being said, if you had a solid group, it was a buttkicking adventure that you wouldn't soon forget. And you knocked off a lot of great lewt quests in there too.

My idea? Oh your not going to like this... Hard reset. After a certain period of time everyone gets thrown back to the first level on equal stand points. Now of course everyone who put time and effort into their characters is going to be enraged so some area will need to be devoted as a place where old characters still exist but the other area will have to be on this reset loop. It may not be a perfect (or very good) idea but it solves the issue of major discrepancies in ability and allows the developer to experiment with each reset and try new things. Obviously this straight up idea is stupid but I think it can be worked into something viable.

Personally I like the suggestion of dropping the grind model MMORPG and making them sandbox games. For as they are now, couldn't there be a technical solution mixed with a bit of game design? I'm thinking WoW, Guild Wars, and Final Fantasy 6 mixed together.

First the game design: build two instances of the game world. First is the Standard Game world where you start at level 1 and grind your way to the top and 'beat' the game. Second is the End Game world which is technically the same place but the entire worlds been rebalanced as end game content. So that starting point where you whacked rats with a stick is now overrun with dragons or, something like that. In other words like FFVI's World of Balance and World of Ruin.

For the technical aspect, at launch you're going to have tons of people all at the starting point, and one year later they'll all be at the end with few at the start. So if you're WoW and you have say 10 servers, at the start devote 9 to the Standard Game and 1 to the End Game to control crowds. To make this up you'll need to open it up a bit, so that like in Guild Wars in communal area's you can jump between servers, people have limited access to move around. As people graduate to the End Game, shift the server balance until eventually you're running 9 End Game servers and 1 Standard Game server. This will crowd the beginners together so they're not randomly dispersed throughout all the veteran players. Maybe even devote 1 Standard game server to existing customers starting over, and 1 to complete newbies.

That should work shouldn't it?

Selectable levels for high ups, idk about you but when I played wow, I pretty much stopped at 73 and just ran instances for lower levels for people with my DK, It would of been much more fun to see LFM Tank DM, and then be able to drop to a 20, and just have my stuff scale down.

Or just keep the levels a LOT closer, the gap between 55 -65 in wow is insane, as a DK I almost trippled in health and DPS, going from 5k HP to 13k+. I would make it so that a level only increased 5% or so from a base. If you start at 100hp by level 20 your at 200 40 400. That way you could make it so that a 15 could quest with a 25.

Destroy the problem by destroying the concept of 'levels'? I don't know how it would work exactly, but if you were to have a system where your starting abilities remain constant throughout the game (excluding, perhaps, the skills; which go from trainee - adept - master, and increase speed or productivity, or something similar. Nothing game breaking). Couple this with a very ingenious and complex damage system (both for players as for monsters) and dump the players in the persistent world.

Sure, the persons with the best gear would have a bigger chance of "0wning", but they too would never be impossible to beat, even by Jimmy McNewN00b.

Anyway, if you remove the levels, you remove the need for scaling gameplay. It might even decrease the e-penis comparing of achievement whores and power gamers, as defeating the Mighty Dragon of Mount Not-A-Nice-Place is not so much the result of months of grinding, but of experience and luck.

I doubt this would work, though.

Would it be technically possible to dedicate servers to lower levels? Say, 4 servers for levels 1-20, 20 for end-game, and so on? I'm imagining NPCs placed in important locations that would allow you to transfer your character to the 'higher' servers.

The upside is that all new characters get 'concentrated' into a smaller handful of servers, and all are sitting in a far fairer economy with regard to gatherable resources - if you've ever tried using an auction house to boost your skilling at lower levels on WoW, knowing that a level 80 can't whomp in there and buy every last piece of copper, silver, tin, iron, mithril, all those engineering parts, and so on, would be lovely.

I quite like the City of Heroes approach to this. Instead of adding content at the top end, pushing this one single line of content far into the stratosphere, they carry on adding content everywhere in the game, and don't push the level limit up from 50 (and have no plans to do so). This means that L50s can do the Raidy type stuff (or there's a brand new Top End content system coming with the new expansion, no idea about that though), they can roll a new character with a new origin and go though again, touching stuff they've done before only lightly. Plus, the game will autoscale missions based on how many people you have, with not much content requiring groups.

On the opposing side, it encourages grouping with XP bonuses and the fact that the game is just a lot more *fun* with eight heroes bounding though the mission.

Spinozaad:
Destroy the problem by destroying the concept of 'levels'? I don't know how it would work exactly, but if you were to have a system where your starting abilities remain constant throughout the game (excluding, perhaps, the skills; which go from trainee - adept - master, and increase speed or productivity, or something similar. Nothing game breaking). Couple this with a very ingenious and complex damage system (both for players as for monsters) and dump the players in the persistent world.

Sure, the persons with the best gear would have a bigger chance of "0wning", but they too would never be impossible to beat, even by Jimmy McNewN00b.

Anyway, if you remove the levels, you remove the need for scaling gameplay. It might even decrease the e-penis comparing of achievement whores and power gamers, as defeating the Mighty Dragon of Mount Not-A-Nice-Place is not so much the result of months of grinding, but of experience and luck.

I doubt this would work, though.

I think that's how SW: Galaxies did that at first and if I recall it didn't work out too well. Now it could be argued that the skill trees could be construed as the games leveling system but that's not the point. The point is that system was essentially broken in the fact that certain skill builds became OPed (think Bounty Hunter/Sniper.) The other downfall of that system was that everyone was walking around in the same armor.

I just don't really know a good catch all fix. There are many good suggestions in this thread alone that might work in some games either by themselves or in combination with other ideas, but in the end AFAIK none of us are game developers. I think we need some good input from the people that have built these kinds of games as well as the ability for them to take ideas from developers of other types of games.

On an unrelated note: Anyone remember the awesome events that used to be held in Asheron's Call with high level monsters raiding low level towns and other crazy stuff? Why don't games do that these days?

The_root_of_all_evil:

In LOTRO, many quest chains end in a group quest. So, you'll do five missions solo and suddenly an NPC will tell you to sod off and find some friends. (And I do hope you read the quest text, or you might charge in alone without realizing you're committing a very humorous form of suicide.) You've just spent the last forty five minutes trying to find and save poor Gerebert, and now you realize all your work was for naught. You can't do it alone and good luck finding help.

**Confused**.. My Elven Hunter is level 30 now, has done most of the deeds/achievements/quests and hasn't ever had to run a group quest. Or if she has, she's aced it with relative ease.

Are we playing the same game?

heh during my trial i did group quests with my hunter on my own aswell so i'm kinda confused aswell..

Simple enough- Make creating alts more fun. I seem to remember City of Heroes/Villains always being just as populated at low levels as later on- in fact, despite it being a few years after relese when I last played it, the first few areas were MUCH more poulated than the later ones. I think it was to do with the large amount of character customization- be it in the huge amount of appearence options, or in the character build itself- meant that I(and probaly a fair few other people) constantly restarted and kept making new characters (Case in point- I played for a 2 or so years, but highest level I got was 29/50)

Simple answer... go away from the grinding-festival of MMOs. The problem is the artificial "level" system. This is the source of the problem as with increasing levels players have to wander around the world to stronger monsters. But for some reason MMOs got stuck in the grinding-thinking many eons ago and can't evolve from there. As long as you sit on the level system it will never work as you are looking for since the level system requires these problems to exist to begin with. You can not remove the problems without removing the source of it, the level-system and grinding-festival, which though would be the dire treatment this whole genre needs since ages.

hansari:

Shamus Young:
I was able to break the economy just by selling my excess herbs at the auction house.

How?

Surplus herbs just means plenty of cheap herbs for everyone to horde up. I don't play WoW, but I know the "economy" includes more important items like armor and weapons...

Even in 2008 WoW's economy did not revolve around armour and weapons. It's even worse right now, alts of end-game players all have heirloom items which level up with the character. Those heirlooms are some of the best items available at that level.
But to get back to the herbs, everybody needs high level alchemists for end-game potions and almost nobody wants to gather herbs. Hell, I played on one server for a year and in that time the price of basic low-level crafting materials nearly tripled while everything else only increased by about 50%.(only 50%, considering there were multiple 80s that reached the money cap) At one point a stack of the most basic ore and herb was sold for 20 gold, this later stabilized at 5-7gold per stack.

Age of Conan solved this problem to some degree by making the first 20 levels of the game be primarily a single player experience. Of course, AoC had all kinds of OTHER problems...

Or, as I pointed out in a recent blog post (www.serialmmogamy.com) you do what Warhammer Online resorted to: Shoving everyone into a single starter area on one server.

Leslee

I think a better system would be two separate games in one, one where you can solo the whole thing, another for people who wanna play in groups. You can port characters over between the worlds, but one has quests for all groups and the other for just solo play. You can still chat between the worlds, and actually see people running around/sell and buy stuff in the solo game, but not quest with them unless in the group world.

Problem sorted, job done, who's for lunch?

How about a leveling system which depends on your experience points gathered and your current experience ladder position? If you keep falling back in the server ladder, you lose levels and are forced to come back to easier areas.

vivadelkitty:
Turbine has actually rennovated the entire level 1-50 line of Epic Quests. There's now a scaling buff that will allow players with the group quests to get increases to damage and health, and reduce incoming damage, effectively making them 'elite' players for the duration of the quests. It will also apply to some non-instanced quests, but there's more of a restriction there.

More information about the new system can be found here: http://www.lotro.com/gameinfo/devdiaries/628-developer-diary-volume-1-revised-edition

Edit: This rennovation occured with the latest content update that launched this week.

That seems to be a rather elegant solution to the problem. I wonder how it will fare. WoW has been on a campaign to make the game more accessable to new and casual players since Burning Crusade, so I'll bet it's just a matter of time before they do something similar.

Crunchy English:

I guess, approximately as much fun as you could have running a chat program and minesweeper at the same time. But my personal bias against MMOs aside, it isn't just some "jackhole", its a great many people. And when a significant number of people beginning ruining their lives, whether because of sinister marketing or some seriously lacking self-control, its time to either regulate or restrict. Gambling, is an excellent example.

In that case we'd better ban alcohol, drugs (good to see that worked), smoking, fatty foods, sugary foods, sunbeds, all videogames, the internet, infidelity... I could go on. There are people out there who are dying for an excuse to self destruct due to whatever charecter flaw. You can't ban or control everything. Even regulation doesn't work, look at drugs, gambling and alcohol. There are still people with problems.

You have to accept that adults are responsible for their own actions.

Tarkand:

I mean back when I played WoW and one of my guild mates would complain about being bored in Tanaris or Felwood, I'd tell him to keep leveling in a few week he'd be in Northrend anyway... and it was true, so... what's the big deal?

You make it sound like a job. I work doing shit I don't want to do (if you knew my job you'd know it involves dealing with people I really don't want to talk to) so I can have fun on the weekend. One job is enough for me...

OT. The only MMO I've ever tried is EVE. There it is open world which would fix the empty world thing. People go where there is stuff to do, safe areas, shops etc. The dead areas... well its space, the clue is in the title I guess. I never got past a few trial sessions. I have friends who play and the thought of spending hours mining, my eyes glazed over, is not my idea of fun.

I remember back in....whatever year Burning Crusade came out...my guild destroyed part of the horde economy by farming the Blood Elf Bandit Masks in the Draenei starting area and selling them. After that I gave up my merchanting abilities while my friend made 1000s of gold buying and selling cross AH items to different places. I wish I kept trading in that game.....

After thinking it over I'd say this problem goes into the same category as the problem of class balancing. It's a problem that's impossible to fix and thus is a complete waste of time trying to fix it. However people do feel better knowing that somebody's trying to fix it.

EVE Online doesn't have a problem with having a barren environment. <.< the principles behind that can work for any MMO. the risk of dying where u lose everything on u, this should keep the economy pretty healthy when everyone has to replace what they owned from time to time.

Just make it so everyone is the same lvl always but progress is based on skills and skill points (like FPS now, new player can still kill like a veteran, but the vet will have all the nice skills and gizmos that help him do it better)

u spend your time on professions and crafts etc. All endgame stuff, raids right off the bat and such.

I'd have to agree that the most recent update to LotRO seems like a good way to deal with the group-quest-bottleneck issue. It's no cure-all for population problems across the board, but for specifically combating that feeling of "Come /on/, why did you make me do all this work only to drop a huge troll-shaped roadblock on the story that I can't beat alone?" the Inspiration buff idea works wonders.

Problem is, it only exist for the Epic questline, not all group quests. This is why my burglar, recently turned 58, still hasn't beaten Maethar back in Angmar, because he's an elite-master who is immune to crowd-control. That last detail is important as I've been able to solo a ridiculous amount of group quests with my burglar simply by abusing the hell out of Riddle.

(For the WoW Rogue-savvy who haven't played LotRO, Riddle is...well, you know how Blind works? Okay, picture Blind. Now imagine it lasts 30 seconds. And has a 30 second cooldown. Yeah. It's nice. Unless it gets resisted. >.>)

Basically, it didn't matter how badass the elite-master guy at the end of the quest chain was - as long as it wasn't something immune to Riddle, I could (eventually) kill it. Oh, and as long as it was alone. Burglars...they don't do so well against groups.

So yeah, after going through two or three group quests back to back on this chain, solo, I finally got stuck at the end when the last guy just said "Bahaha, immune" to my tactics. -.- Not cool, guys. Not cool.

Anyway, I drifted. Back on point: applying a variable buff based on group size to make quests manageable for everyone up until endgame seems like a good solution to me. Raids are still raids, leave that alone, obviously, but the non-raid stuff? That can slide. Alternatively you could do it the other way around and have all the quests start off as "solo" and have the baddies beef up if there's a group doing the quest. Of course people would try to exploit this - multiple people doing a hard quest together but not grouping to buff up, for instance - so you'd have to find workarounds (baddies get buffed up to compensate for the number of incoming damage sources...I dunno, something), but I like the base idea behind it.

Now if only Turbine would apply it to quests beyond the Epic questline...

I think that despite it being completely designed for forced parting after level 10 Final Fantasy 11 did a good job of keeping populations balanced with it's job system. Generally people will try differant jobs and see what they are like, plus you need to work on your sub class.

Unfortunately as far as economy and clustering to fight over mobs, I think you will all ways have that as long as MMOs maintain having rare items being dropped by rare mobs. I remember how insane Asura server's economy was by the time I left the game completely. Prices were so ridiculous that a new player, that just happend to be at the right place; at the right time, could get a low level rare that would net you almost 100k gill. When I started playing 3 years earlier that same item was worth about 15k.

Ciler:

Shujen:
Simple solution:

Get rid of leveling.

The idea that the wolves in THIS forest are ten times as deadly as the wolves in THAT forest is ridiculous. The idea that Villager #4 in Town #2 can beat up everybody in Town #1 one-handed, including the huge bully you needed a group to tackle, is insane. A top-level player can kill everybody else endlessly without breaking a sweat.

Forgetting what it means for group quests, it means also that 99% of all content in an MMO, no matter how huge the MMO is, is totally pointless to visit by a top-level player - especially if his equipment never gets lost, loses durability or is otherwise impermanent.

All zones should have something worthwhile for a top-level player, be it resources to exploit (trees that only grow in one area) or politics and commerce to exploit (logs that fetch a good price in one area).

There should be a plateau that is easy to get to, and that plateau should be extremely difficult to transcend, except by politics (clan/guild effort), and the rewards of such should be communal, not individual (a support network, not better gear).

I'm thinking UO, EVE and the upcoming MO. We need more sandbox MMOs.

I've been thinking along these lines as well.

Another similar alternative, that keeps the levels in for those of us who enjoy seeing numbers go up, would be to make it so that your character isn't twice as powerful every couple of levels. The power progression in these games is nuts... level 1 you have like 100 health and hit for 10 damage, and by max level you have 50000 health and hit for 5000. If the progression was more gradual and didn't end at such an extreme, you'd still be able to enjoy a broader range of content for longer.

Also your point about resources is good, I think it's the best way to keep a mix of people active in all areas of the world at all times. With dynamic resources, you could even have places that become over-harvested or under-harvested, which would encourage mobility in returning to previously tapped out areas, or exploring for new resource-rich places.

To go the CoD way of doing it, everybody is viable from the outset: Yeah, you may have basic equipment and whatnot, but you're still human and your skill still accounts for the vast majority of your abilities in-game.

What differentiates you, the hardcore veteran who's done this for years, from the newbie scrub, is not the gear but the experience and the support network. You have a clan that supplies you with important intel, comes when you call, and coordinates better than any pick-up group can ever hope to attain. That your abilities are barely 20% more than the average player should not compute.

MMOs should reward grouping, not require grouping in arbitrary scenarios. You should want to band together because it means you may guarantee survival during the reprisal against some annoying bastard - played by a real person, no less! - who stole your prized possession yesterday, NOT because this particular NPC happens to have ten times more hitpoints than your average NPC.

If you're going to let a player have power over another player such that the latter can never hope to overcome the former, you'd better have a damn good reason for doing so, and it should be inextricably tied to the MM aspect of the MMO.

John Funk:

Crunchy English:

No.

Just because some jackhole can't moderate his own gaming habits - whether he's playing WoW, CoD4, the Sims, or obsessively cornering the market on eBay - doesn't mean that the millions of people who enjoy games like these in moderation aren't having a good time.

He does have something of a point, though. I don't agree with him entirely, but if you can pretend to not notice how shallowly MMOs are designed to force you to play longer, then you're in denial. Even WoW, the supposedly least-grindy of the MMOs out there is very blatantly designed in such a way that it can take months to get geared from an raid... at which point they release a new raid with better gear.

After about 4 years with WoW, spending probably hundreds of hours playing through what's probably only about 10-hours of gameplay, I plan to drastically cut-down on my WoW time after Cataclysm. Namely, I won't be raiding, and there's something to be said about the fact that it feels like I'm quitting a job, because I'm suddenly going to have so much more free time than I currently do. It's not that I don't enjoy WoW, it's just that in order to experience anything in the game you have to be married to a group of 9 or 24 other people. It's less about the fact that I "can't control" my gaming habits, and more the fact that I feel guilty enough ditching-out on some friends when the expansion comes out, much less wanting to do it now in the middle of a raid cycle.

I don't agree with his cynical "kill all MMOs" mentality, but I do feel that they should at least try to hide the fact that they're blatantly extending the gameplay to force you into more monthly subscription fees. Which is to say nothing of the fact that it requires a part-time job's commitment (and that's if your group is more casual about raiding) to see the game's content. And it's not like you're even seeing that much content. Most of that ~20 hours a week is spent killing the same 4 or 5 bosses over and over again so you can have a shot at trying to kill the next boss. Imagine playing Final Fantasy 7, except that your memory card wipes itself like clockwork every week (which wouldn't be surprising for approx 15-year-old tech). Then one week Barret doesn't show-up in the intro because some IRL issue came-up, so you're a day behind getting started on attempting to get to Sephiroth at the end of the game that you've started and re-started countless times the past number of months.

Bleh... but I'm getting-off on a tangent here. Long-story-short, MMOs don't really need to go (as mentioned before, I have fun with WoW), but I hate how blatantly dragged-out they are for the sake of more subscription fees.

ravensshade:

The_root_of_all_evil:

In LOTRO, many quest chains end in a group quest. So, you'll do five missions solo and suddenly an NPC will tell you to sod off and find some friends. (And I do hope you read the quest text, or you might charge in alone without realizing you're committing a very humorous form of suicide.) You've just spent the last forty five minutes trying to find and save poor Gerebert, and now you realize all your work was for naught. You can't do it alone and good luck finding help.

**Confused**.. My Elven Hunter is level 30 now, has done most of the deeds/achievements/quests and hasn't ever had to run a group quest. Or if she has, she's aced it with relative ease.

Are we playing the same game?

heh during my trial i did group quests with my hunter on my own aswell so i'm kinda confused aswell..

Thing to keep in mind is that he IS playing as a Bard. I don't really know the mechanics of LotRO or how its classes are balanced, but I've played enough MMOs to know that when one class can rip through something like moist paper, another class will feel like he's punching through a brick wall. Heck, having gotten both a Mage and a Paladin to 80 in WoW, they were completely different experiences. My Paladin could easily solo his way from 70 to 80 when the last expansion came out. Meanwhile my Mage would have to pause at any group quest and try to find a tank, or at least another DPS class or two for an attempt at a "Kill him before he kills us" sort of affair. Sure it took a little while for my Paladin to solo those mobs, but he'd still get the quest done faster than it took for my Mage to find a group and then kill the mob at a faster pace.

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