Today, I watched a video on AntVenom's channel, in which he tries to answer the question, "is Minecraft (vanilla, modded, otherwise) dying?" By all accounts of sales figures and active players, the answer to that question is no. The game is still selling well, and more people have played Minecraft in November than in the past several years. So the game isn't dying by a numbers point of view.
But, you can also look at it from a more philosophical point of view: has Minecraft lost the charm that attracted players years ago? To answer this, watch AntVenom's video on the topic below.
After watching this video, it got me thinking. We're in a similar situation with the Lord of the Rings mod in that it's been around for a good many years (close to five) and there have been rumours (which are founded in complete nonsense) that the mod is dying.
Do I believe a similar thing is happening to this mod as AntVenom is describing in his video? Absolutely, and I can speak from a personal standpoint. When I first started way back in Public Beta 8, literally every single feature of the mod was literally nothing short of awesome.
Simply having a Middle-earth dimension to visit was exceptional. So was a good/evil alignment system. NPC vs NPC combat. Alloy forging in the Dwarven Forge. Unit Hiring. Barrel Brewing. The list went on and on. In fact, the features of the mod at that time, though limited, were so amazing to me that I didn't even bother updating to Public Beta 9 a good two weeks after it came out. Finally, I did update though, and I was pleasantly surprised every time a new region was available to visit, new NPC's were added, or a new gameplay mechanic was added.
Over the years that followed, some of the features that amazed me the most included the diversity in Middle-earth's landscape (hills, trees, vegetation, animals, etc), the diversity in Generated Structures, Equipment Modifiers, invasions, Factions, roads, Utumno, and of course, the grand-daddy of them all, the update that generated the world the way we know it, Public Beta 13.
Now, when I play the mod (around four and a half years after the first time I played it), try as I might, I can't easily get the same sense of awe and wonder that I did the first few weeks I played the mod. But this is none of Mevans' fault. It's simply that I've seen so much of it already, that I've started to accept and expect the beautiful details and massive feature-packed realm that is Middle-Earth. Furthermore, I've literally got the mod (almost) down cold, and calling myself a pro wouldn't be much of a stretch (There's literally almost no region of Middle-Earth I haven't ridden to in survival, but I've never played as evil before).
If I came across this mod in 12019, without ever having played it, would I get the same sense of awe that I did when I got it for the first time? I believe the answer to that is, without a doubt, absolutely. There are so many features in the mod that you would've never expected when searching for a "Lord of the Rings Mod" that it would take you many, many hours to get over it, and even then, there's tons of content to keep you occupied.
Can I bring back the old sense of awe and wonder? To a limited extent, I can. That's partly why I created my small house in the Grey Mountains on Isildur's Bane. Some days, I literally log in and do nothing other than climb to Bald Peak (a mountain on the south-west side of my house) and look at my small wooden cabin, hidden in a wooded valley, with brooks, lakes, and snow-capped mountains surrounding it. Or I visit the Trollshaws for about fifteen minutes and do nothing other than look at the beautiful scenery around me, wishing I could enter a land so beautiful in real life.
If you are ever in the situation of "why did I think this mod was awesome two years ago? It's getting mundane" just go to a wild region, stop, and look around. What do you see? A hill, covered in trees, across from a river, with an old, crumbling ruin peeking out between the trees? A lake with willows growing around it, with a bustling village in the background? Dead trees and ruins around a Ranger camp in Eriador, with Rangers shooting a Gundabad orc hiring under a tree? Whatever you see, take a moment to examine it, and let yourself be amazed by the sheer detail and scale of content that this mod has to offer. Hopefully, the next time you play, you'll look at the mod with fresh eyes... at least, refreshed ones.
Anyways, that's all I have to say for you. Have a merry Christmas! Hopefully my present makes you appreciate the mod just a little bit more.
EDIT: 4/6/19: Another reason why the mod may have lost its charm to many players is that the players themselves have changed over time. When I first started playing the mod back in 12013, I was essentially junior high school age; ~Grade 9 age-equivalent or so, at least chronologically -- people IRL often think I'm 5-10 years older than I actually am! Six years later, I am 18 months away from starting my Master's in Organic Chemistry at university, have been cited 86 times, have won an award for a paper I published in a writing competition, and earned the the Chemistry Achievement Award from the department in which I work, earned a black belt in chito-ryu karate, and upgraded my sailboat, among other things. Am I the same man that I was when I first started playing the mod? Certainly not. As I've become older, I've acquired more interests, and more interests means I just don't have the time to commit to all of them like I did when I had fewer interests. The fact that the mod has managed to hold my interest at all for so many years, rather than being an interest that wore off within a few weeks/months, points to the fact this is just a darn good mod.
If you've been playing the mod for 4+ years, take a look back at yourself and think. Are you the same person now that you were when you first started playing the mod? Probably not. I'm sure that there are new players discovering the mod as we speak, that would have been in grade primary or even kindergarten when the mod first came out. How long they'll keep their interest in the mod's another matter, but I am sure that they'll be blown away with the scope of this mod, and the amount of content it offers.