In this series of articles I look at the things that I think LotR:O did well, which Guild Wars 2 should aim to emulate or improve upon. Why LotR:O? Well that is one of the games that I have experience on, having played for approximately a year. In this article I will look at LotR:O music system and how it could help bring new life to the towns, villages, cities, and resting stops of Tyria, and start a constructive community.
How it work in LotR:O
Depending on the class that you started the game with, you have access to a variety of instruments which you can play anywhere in the world. There are four ways to play the instrument. You can use the item at which point you can press different keys to play different notes. You can enter command into the chat bar which would play a series of notes. Alternatively, and most usefully, you could write out "code" in a mark up language, save the code to a text file, then type a command in the chat bar to execute the file So far, that's three ways. The fourth is the best. You and your friends can form a group, each of you with a different text file saved to your PC, each of you with a different instrument. You type a synchronization command into the chat bar and once everyone is ready you start playing as a band.
The atmosphere this created in the game was amazing. Imagine travelling by horse back at night into a brand new zone. In the distance through the fog you see a dark a shady tavern. As you approach you can hear music in the distance. You enter the tavern and inside is a 4 piece band, sure enough, they are playing "Stairway to Heaven". Three or four other players are standing around watching, while two more dance on the table tops. The band finishes their song, several of the audience applaud, while the others thank the band for a great number. Just as another player shout, "Encore," the band kicks into the Mos Eisley's Cantina song from Star Wars.
|The Forsaken Inn, Lord of the Rings: Online|
This story is a common occurrence in LotR:O. My friends and I spent several nights travelling around the map playing songs in various establishments. We were never rewarded, it was just a fun thing to do. This seems to fit in perfectly with the Guild Wars 2 mantra. It helps to build a community on a server. People interact during shows and get to know each other. Guild Wars 2's cities are really missing something that I have found most other MMO's have, and that is active cities and camps. Sure there are people running around in LA, but no one is ever talking to each other, or interacting. The music system could help to fill that void. The music system could also help to fill down time. Often times, while waiting for a party member in LotR:O our party would start playing songs for each other, or start a "name that tune" game. Just another great touch that helps round the game out.
Specific to Guild Wars 2, imagine an army outside a fort your control in WvW. They aren't lobbing stones at your fort with catapults, they are all playing Justin Bieber in an attempt to drive you from your home. Imagine your server's zerg rushing down towards a smaller group of enemies while a group of players plays the classic charge melody on a bugle.
Asides from the community building that I have mentioned above this music system would create a community of players actively generating song files for users to use. Guild Wars 2 currently lacks a community of creative people making stuff for the game. This system would help to create that community and hold them together.
The community that developed around LotR:O's music system is The Fat Lute. Unfortunately, it seems the site has now shut down. Since I am not an active player in the LotR:O community anymore I am not sure if there is a replacement. Here is a link to the site on the Internet Achieve from when it was last up. Basically the site is a forum and database of text files for various songs. It is a community of players working outside of the game to create something.
Sure this system was not perfect. Dealing with the text files was painful, even with community developed tools. I would hope that a Guild Wars 2 implementation of this system would be much cleaner and easier to use, perhaps with the GUI directly in the game's interface. LotR:O had a bard class which has access to all the instruments at character creation and they could teach others how to use the instruments. I would imagine that GW2 would forgo this music class and instead just allow all classes to use all instruments, perhaps after talking to a trainer in town.
With that said, I believe that this music system fits perfectly in with the Guild Wars 2 mantra. It would bring players together, and give them something to do just because it is fun to do. New life and community would thrive around groups of players playing music in the towns, and cities of Tyria. No longer would players be bored while the wait for their friends to BRB from AFK. Next time you begin your Citadel of Flame runs imagine standing by the entrance as your party files in while one player plays the theme to Indian Jones.