Bree TownMay 15, 2010 at 12:25 am | Posted in Lord of the Rings Online, mmorpg | 8 Comments
Tags: games, Lord of the Rings Online, LOTRO, MMO, mmorpg
Bree is probably the best mmorpg town I’ve ever really been in. I’ve played Anarchy Online, Silkroad Online, Face of Mankind (top games I know), Guild Wars, Warhammer, Runes of Magic, Aika, and probably some other free to play I haven’t thought of. That’s not counting the giant amount of ancient bbs games or subspace of course. Not the greatest selection of towns, but a selection at least.
The thing that makes Bree great is it feels like a real town. The buildings are artistically sound, to scale, well designed, and provide a sense of people living there. There are NPCs floating around not doing much of anything except perpetuating the feeling that you’re in a town. There are buildings that serve a purpose, the town hall, the jail, the Prancing Pony, and others. There are squares where people congregate, multiple places to craft, dead end alleys in bad parts of town, and old ruins the town grew around. It feels like there’s history.
A lot of the time in games towns feel like a bunch of decorative objects surrounding the NPCs you need to go see. The only signs of life being the other people in them. AO’s towns were filled with afkers. Lion’s Arch in Guild Wars just doesn’t feel as grand as it should, in fact it feels more like a tiny village than a capital city. Runes of Magic either had vast cities too spread out to feel alive, filled with empty spaces, or small virtually dead outposts with no activity of any kind. Silkroad had large cities too, and I remember very small areas of them being so incredibly crowded you couldn’t see the NPCs let alone click on them.
I could do without Bree being quite so spread out. Unfortunately it does add to the realism even if it gets tedious. Especially since I don’t have a horse yet or even know how to get one.
Varanas in RoM is so vast they have magical transporters at the entrance to take you to various places in town. Shouldn’t that be a hint that your town is too big? I suppose it might have been a ploy to get you to buy transport runes. Bree has something similar, where you can take a horse to the other side of town. Another sign that frankly, it’s just too big.
Conversely in RPGs towns are often far too small in scale. A great capital like Denerim in Dragon Age, should be kind of huge. You see tiny parts of it, designed barely enough to let you do the specific quests Bioware has designed. There are millions of people on the Citadel in Mass Effect 2, I think I got to see about 3 dozen friendly NPCs. Bathesdas Imperial City is a lot better, I think it’s about as close as you can get to a video game city without it being too big to finish or too small to impress.
One thing that also makes Bree more alive, at least on Landroval, are the people standing around playing music. I was aware you can play notes and create slash recreate songs in game, thanks to Biobreak, but I wasn’t prepared for how many people and how often. Every time I’m in Bree, there’s multiple seperate groups playing songs. I just wish I could figure out what songs they’re playing. It’s hard to match the songs up in my brain to their real world counterpart.
Even other towns in Lord of the Rings Online aren’t nearly as well done, Thorin’s Hall was a pain. Bland walls, several NPCs serving the same purpose, large open empty chambers, convoluted paths. I didn’t like it.
My favourite towns serve function but have plenty of form, and while Bree serves form more than it does function, it does it with style.
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