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Middle Earth And Bulging Shelves

In my first year of not attending E3 you may be wondering how I have been occupying my time, here at home on the farm.

Alternatively, you may not gives a rats posterior as to what I have been doing. Well, I will tell you anyway! I have spent a huge amount of time re-reading the Lord Of The Rings, Hobbit, Silmarillion, and countless Tolkien reference books that I have collected over the years. I had a shelf bending under the weight of Tolkien reference long before that guy in New Zealand had the idea of making a flick. This is all part of my preparation for the gaming event of the year and the unveiling of Lord Of The Rings Online. (Turbine reps please note I accept beta invites most graciously ;) )

When not dusting the corners of my brain that are home to my Tolkien trivia I am scouring news sites, reading all the US and European forum posts, downloading every image, MP3 discussion, promo video and anything remotely connected to this forthcoming MMORPG.

This franchise (IP - intellectual property as they call them in marketing speak) has the value of a truckload of Mithril in terms of fan base and consumer awareness. Add to that the richness of the lore that Tolkien bequeathed us and it is hard to imagine anything but the game of the year, nay the century. Just as I start to get excited though, I remember my excitement of the prospect of Star Wars Galaxies, another IP that could surely do no wrong.

I tried, and I really tried, and tried again to like Star Wars Galaxies but with the best will in the world such mediocrity as SWG stands out for what it is. The total disaster with the Jedi characters is just one example of a virtual world that had large cracks that defied being papered over. I was certainly not alone in this opinion, walking through key cities with my character it became a game in itself trying to spot another player. Star Wars Galaxies had become Ghost Galaxies. The game was, and is, suffering a slow and painful digital death.

If someone had said to me a few short years ago that a game based on Star Wars would not be massive, would not be teeming with players then I would have taken their opinion with a healthy dose of sceptism. History has, however, shown us that a strong IP, and arguably the best loved around, is not sufficient to gloss over a poor game.

I do so hope that Turbine have learnt the lesson of history and supported the Tolkien universe with strong, compelling gameplay that builds a huge and loyal community. I have my fears, I would hate a World Of Warcraft clone where characters are simply substituted with those from the Tolkien canon. I am really hoping that the intelligence of Tolkien fans is not so insulted that this game is also dumbed down to a "kill and collect" fest like WoW. I really want to get involved in the lore and feel part of the Tolkien experience. I may be in the minority in that I could not care less about combat in an MMO, preferring to use my brain, exploring and solving puzzles. I would rather be solving riddles than being told to dispatch another batch of Orcs.

To paraphrase Gollum, I wonder what Turbine has in their collective pocketses, especially for lifelong Tolkien afficianados such as myself. Time will tell if this new MMO will become my precioussss...

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