Three years ago, I was leafing through a computer gaming magazine and found myself intrigued at a multi-page spread for a new MMORPG called Lord of the Rings Online. The very thing that pulled at me was that LotRO, as they described, was blissfully low magic in a way that World of Warcraft's glitzy shinies was not. Instead, here was a world that was a little more realistic in scope, a lot more beautiful, and connected to a killer IP to boot. I was hooked.
As we celebrate LotRO's third anniversary this week -- don't forget to log on to get your Writ of Virtue -- it's amazing to reflect on just how far this game has come. It may not be the multi-million subscriber hit that some had hoped for, but it's more than respectable in player numbers, community growth and general respect in the field of MMOs. Two expansions and several content patches later, we've walked with the Fellowship of the Ring from Bag End to Weathertop, down the long road to Rivendell, through the dangerous Mines of Moria, and out into the beauty of Lothlórien. We've experienced two new classes, housing, fishing, the skirmish system, crafting dungeons, a new player experience overhaul, the Lone-lands revamp, several major holidays, and the successful reestablishment of the Shire's postal service.