LotROI loves me my MMOs. The old cry of “SOW PLZ” from the trade channels of Everquest still ring in my ears (kids, ask your gamer parents). Though I’ve tried a great many, I never got very far in most of them. In fact, of all the MMOs I’ve played, I’ve only reached the endgame content in Daddy WoW. I made a great group of friends doing 10-man raid content in WoW:BC and WoW:WotLK. That time, alas, is past.

As Nick mentioned, it’s quite remarkable how much creating new worlds from scratch can devour one’s free time. Parenting does an impressive job of p0wning the rest. (L2P means ‘learn to parent while playing MMOs’, amirite? Haven’t mastered that one yet. I’m such a n00b.) It’s crushing me to watch Cataclysm’s release date approach and know that I won’t be able to play it. Because the fact of the matter is, while I’d still love to play, I can only seem to squeeze in a couple two-hour sessions a month no matter how hard I try. This, dear friends, makes the $15 subscription fee to continue the work of my beloved tank to free the world from evils great and small while keeping my friends from getting their faces melted cost-prohibitive.

So when I heard that Lord of the Rings Online was moving to a freemium model, I was thrilled. I’d stuck my head in the LotRO door a couple times in the past, so I already knew I’d love this game. Creating a new character and logging back in, it was everything I remembered. The graphics are gorgeous, the music is compelling, and there’s enough quest content to keep my lizard brain extremely satisfied smashing mobs and returning lost trousers to townsfolk in need. Plus, LotRO has something WoW will never have. Soon after I created my character, he crossed paths with a shadowy gentleman who went by the name of Strider. Strider was helping a Sackville-Baggins who was being pursued by a Ringwraith, but Strider in turn needed my help. He explained that there was a different Baggins that needed protection elsewhere–the true target of the Ringwraiths. Strider needed to get to that Baggins quickly before the Ringwraiths realized their mistake.

Um. Wow. Yes sir, I will help your cause.

Needless to say, I’m really enjoying LotRO, as little as I get a chance to play it. It’s firing on all cylinders for me. There’s just one problem. When you play as intermittently as I do, you end up missing out quite a bit on the “massively multiplayer” part of the MMO experience. I find myself agreeing with Leigh Alexander in her recent Kotaku post: no matter how much fun a game may be, it’s always more fun with a posse. But how can you gather a posse when you’re just not around all that much? We’re trying to answer that question in our own way with Bastion: Call to Arms, but I’d love to figure out a way to play with friends in the MMO environment as well, even if it’s just a couple of times a month. Has anyone else figured out a way to do that?