Recently I decided, on a whim, to play a bit of Lord of the Rings Online. I had tried it before during beta and a trial later on with a friend. In both times it never really captured my heart enough to actually want to subscribe to the game. Lord of the Rings Online (LotRO from this point on) however has switched to a "free to play" model for some time now. So I decided to check it out again and if I didn't like it, I wouldn't be losing anything more than my time. If I liked it but found myself not playing it for long periods of time for a reason or another then there would be no worries about wasting money because I wasn't playing.
As I delved into LotRo again I found that the game's "free to play" model wasn't exactly what I expected... But I also find something interested, that might be unique to Turbine games that made me think about starting this little experiment.
See, what I was expecting of LotRO's free to play was more akin to the way that korean MMORPGs, like Runes of Magic or NeoSteam handles it. I.e. You have access to all classes, all areas, no arbitrary caps, limits to your inventories and normal access to the Auction House (or equivalent). The stuff on the cash shop would be appearance items, XP potions, mounts and stuff like that.
The way LotRO handles its "free to play" (and many other games who converted to it) however is more like an unlimited trial. That is, you can only make two characters, your can only have
four three bags of inventory, you can't sell anything in the auction house (I didn't try to buy stuff from it though), no access to shared bank, no way in-game to buy the ride skill (so you can have a mount), you can't play two of the classes, a gold cap, a level cap, plus a few other limitations.
If you want to lift any of those limitations your options are either to buy it individually from the LotRO store or subscribe to one of the game's plans. And of course, the store doesn't offer only the option to unlock those limitations, it also sells the usual XP potions as well as cosmetic stuff and mounts.
To be fair though, Korean MMORPGs tend to be very grindy. While LotRO follows more of a western follow more of a game model where they try to hide the grind between a series of quests so it doesn't feel so bad (though that can be argued too!). So perhaps the pure free to play Korean model might not work so well with a western game philosophy. I am not sure.
Anyway, what I did like about the way they handled it though is that you can earn Turbine Points (which allows you to buy stuff on the LotRO store) in-game through certain quests, deeds (think of it as Achievements for other games) and probably a few other ways that I am unaware of at this point.
That leads me to my little experiment. I am curious to see how many Turbine Points (henceforth abbreviated as TP) one can earn purely through gameplay. I am also intending to blog it for posteriority (and because I am insane like that.)
Here is how I am planning to do this:
First, I am going to create a new account. I already earned some TP through quests on my main account so that makes it a bit hard to go back and say where I got it from or take screenshots to prove it. Another reason is if I find myself enjoying LotRO to want to play it for the long haul, then I wouldn't be averse to subscribing to it. Thus another reason for a new account as the subscription would be on the main account and it wouldn't have any risk of being polluted by external TP sources.
Secondly, I intent to take screenshots of where the TP are coming from and keep track of how many has been earned with each game session. If any TP end being spent (even though that may be unlikely) that will be tracked too.
Thirdly, I won't force myself to seek a group for a quest, kinship, raid or whatever just for the sake of TP. I play the game my own way and do stuff as they make sense for me. I will try to point it out though if I find those opportunities appearing but I will also admit that it might not make for the complete picture of how to earn TPs through gameplay.
Lastly, keep in mind I am a completely noob to this game (not so much to MMORPGs though). So I will probably miss certain quests that reward TP or ways I am unware about. Again, that might distort the end data. At the same time though I think it does give a more realistic view of it for anyone who is completely new to LotRO and would want to try the same thing.
Alright, that is it. We'll see how this experiment goes. Next post on this series.... whenever I can come up with a good name for the character. /sigh