I must confess that I'm slowly but surely loosing heart for this game.
For me, the downfall started with Mines of Moria and the unsettling changes that the Devs decided to make to what seems the fundamentals of the game for me.
I have a hard time accepting the amount of grind that sneaked into Middle-Earth Online; in some cases grind with very non-optimistic odds...
The Journey, as leveling is often described in LotRO, is still worth playing, but I personally am all but an alter, so once I've finished mine, what's left out there?
Raiding has been compromised by instancing and the enforcement of radiance gathering. You can not anymore simply gather with friends and go have some high-end gameplay time, first you have to farm the instances to death to equip all those friends and only than you can have a go at boring and badly designed fights - or encounters - that Devs try to make pass as raids. I simply can't imagine why they keep on rejecting the fact that this approach is far too limiting for most players as too time-consuming and in the end simply boring.
Lets do some math to picture the situation better assuming that we have a dedicated static group of 12 people. This means 6 instance runs per player providing that they are all great players that never suffer from fkups and thus each and every run is succesful. This will give us:
Grand Stair: 6x30min = 3h
Skumfil: 6x20min = 2h + 1h to get the key
Forges: 6x40min = 4h
Fil Gashan: 6x1.5h = 9h
16th Hall: 6x1.5h = 9h
Dark Delvings: 6x1h = 6h
This gives 34 hours of initial instance grind per raid member to even get close to Sushi!!!
Turtle Encounter, promised as an encounter that's supposed to help people get geared up for Watcher, fails miserably as such. In this stupid damage race against time and huge acid dot, players that are already geared up have an insane advantage with their better weapons and radiance set offering big acid defense bonus along with all the other bonus stats. Those players don't need the Turtle anymore in the promised sense, they will just farm him for LIs.
And now, with b8 patch we will get more raids where we must counter more dread, which means we have to farm radiance gear anew. I'm thrilled.
I've played many games, starting with asian grindcore and slowly mowing to something more player-friendly. I'm an experienced MMO games, I even graduated and recieved my Master of Arts title for a work on ethics in MMOs. I've always read about declining numbers of players after some unfortunate nerfs, but truth be told I've never seen anything to support that observation: people on forums would write about how their kins are turning into ghost-kins. But in LotRO for the first time I've seen it with my own eyes: forget even my Kin (two actually). But our Raiding Alliance (RrU) used to have 30+ members on channel in the evenings! For few days already, I don't see much more than 10. Same for globallff which I remember scoring around 500 members in the evenings - it's around 200 recently as well.
I hoped to see LotRO as last step in my MMO journey, or at least one of the last. And I always rejected WoW as an ugly, 'jelly' game. But the insanely stupid movements Turbine are doing finally got me to try some WoWing, because I simply can't make myself log into lotRO anymore. What for? Doing 16th Hall for the 50th time? Or reading a book while grinding Fil Gashan for 30th time?