I'm failing to enjoy Lord of the Rings Online. It has amazing graphics, the best fantasy backstory material available, and a strong fan community. The instance-based epic quests make LotRO the first MMOG with a strong storyline and the deeds system is a clever innovation to give some purpose to grinding. But the gameplay experience is failing. The graphics engine is broken. The combat seems simplistic. And it's terribly, terribly laggy. Monsters jump around as network packets arrive, crowded areas take forever to load, and the whole game is played under the miasma of a 200ms delay.

For example, as a Hunter what I do is run up to a monster and then shoot an arrow at it. So I take my finger off of W, the run key, and use that finger to press 1, the shoot key. Every single time, I'm told "you cannot do that while moving". It seems the the client is waiting for the server to acknowledge I stopped moving before letting me shoot, forcing me to wait 200+ms for the round trip before my input is accepted. It's not network congestion or ping time (those are fine), it's just the software isn't designed to feel like realtime.

All this makes me appreciate the brilliant gameplay experience of World of Warcraft. I pretty much never feel lag in WoW, the game plays like an action RPG. In combat it feels like my ability to execute move combinations swiftly makes a real difference. Thanks to an addon I know that there's actually a 200-300ms delay between actions, but the client and server must be working together doing speculative execution to make it feel like realtime. It's not easy to do that and make it work, but it's very important to gameplay.

  2007-06-07 18:06 Z