Lord Of The Rings Online: Ask Turbine #1: Jeff Anderson, CEO Answers

Jeff Anderson is the CEO of Turbine and in the first of several interviews, he answers questions on Destiny Points, Monster Play, pricing and other concerns of players. Remember, the fans drive this Q&A, so you need to get your questions in for next time.

Lord of the Rings Online: Audio Interview Transcription (edited)
Answers by Jeff Anderson, CEO Turbine
Questions from Community

imageDelmar Wynn: Can you tell us a bit about the Collectors Edition yet?

Jeff Anderson: We have not made any announcements about the Collector’s Edition at this time, but it is something that we’re taking a serious look at. A lot of companies just put a new box out there and pretend that it is enough. We want to make sure that the Collector’s Edition is something really meaningful and special. However, we haven’t solidified all the final components or plans at this time. More to come!

Delmar Wynn: Destiny points. People have seen them in the beta, but they’re largely unexplained. Can you explain them and what they’re for?

image Jeff Anderson: Wow, good question. We haven’t told people much about them before, so here goes!

Destiny Points are a powerful currency that you can spend on your Monster and Hero characters. Because they accumulate at the account-level, the points are independent of any individual character. This means that you can spend points that you earned as a Warg on either your Warg monster or (for instance) your Hobbit Burglar. Destiny Points appear on the main Character page of your Character Journal for both Monsters and Heroes.

Monsters can earn Destiny Points by completing quests, killing NPCs, and killing player-controlled Heroes. These Destiny Points are the primary form of Monster advancement. These points can then be spent, as a currency, on all kinds of upgrades for your monster. For example, your Uruk Warleader can use Destiny Points to buy more armour, new skills, powerful Traits, and even appearance improvements such as warpaint. In addition to showing your Monster’s progress with appearance and equipment, your portrait’s circle on the Vitals bar will also change. Just as with regular monsters in Middle-earth, your monster begins life with a green portrait circle showing you as a “Swarm” level creature. As you buy more skills and Traits, you will eventually advance to “Normal” (shown in blue) and finally to “Signature” (shown in red).

Your standard Hero character can also benefit from Destiny Points. However, they can only earn Destiny Points by leveling past level 10. Heroes are allowed to spend Destiny Points on Destiny Point Perks, which are temporary buffs that can be used to boost your strength, add to your speed, and even give you more experience points. Once you reach Level 10, a small box appears in the lower right of your screen, displaying your current point total. Click on Spend Destiny to display a list of available Destiny Point Perks. You are given a few Destiny Points to start out with, but the best way to acquire them is through Monster Play.

imageGilfaroth: What special features are you planning to make for Kinships? It’s likely we have a guild chat and so on, but do you also have some unique things in mind?

Jeff Anderson: There’s already a ton of features in our Kinship systems just like ‘guild’ chat, but I suppose there is always more to do! Kinships (and other social features) are a focal point for the team – both before launch and after launch. We care enormously about adding to the social networking of the game.

To start with, let me explain the basics of Kinship. Kinships are essentially groups of players that come together for a common, long-term purpose. (In other online roleplaying games, such organizations are often called guilds). The purpose could be purely social, to pool resources, to take care of new players, or to share a common philosophy. To create a Kinship, you must purchase a charter from a Kinship Clerk found in towns throughout Middle-earth. The person who created the Kinship is its first leader. (Yes, a Kinship can change its leader!) However, you cannot create a Kinship if you are already a member of another Kinship. A Kinship is flavored by race (e.g., Hobbit Kinships have Thanes as their ranking members, for example) or is Mixed – the founder makes that decision when she creates the Kinship.

imageAs for functionality, the Kinship panel is separated into three sections – the Kinship’s name, its Message of the Day, and its Members list. The Kinship Message of the Day is for important announcements which your Kinship leader or officers would like you to know about (such as scheduled Kinship events, introducing new members and such). The Kinship member list is used to quickly determine who in your Kinship is currently on-line, where they are adventuring, and what level and class they are. Finding Kinship members close to your own level and current area is a good way to begin establishing a fellowship. All buttons within the Kinship panel are considered to be Kinship commands and, as such, they can only be executed by members of sufficient rank.

The character that purchases a charter and starts a Kinship is its founder, and always has that title. That character is also the Kinship’s first leader. Only one member can be the leader. The other title is the leader (or something similar); any other characters in the Kinship can be officers. Only Kinship leaders and officers have sufficient rank to remove people from the Kinship. Kinships also need to at least have 5 members to be maintained.

One interesting thing that we are doing is tracking the lifespan of a Kinship, meaning that Kinships that have been around for a longer time will have more options to choose from, such as Message of the Day, Officer Chat, Kinship Mail and Kinship Auctions. Kinships lifespans go up dependant on the length of time your Kinship has been around. We also want to add other deeds that Kinships can achieve, that allow them to gain other benefits.

A common question we get is whether we are going to ship with Kinship housing. We don’t have it at launch, but it is something that we think is pretty important.

imageDataplague: Will there be variety in weapon textures?

Jeff Anderson: I have seen pretty diverse weapon textures, but in some cases we may not have all of them in the game just yet. (Don’t forget that some of the things that you may have been seeing in Beta are just that … still in Beta!) There are a lot of new effects that are coming in on the weapons and some of the textures are being upgraded. You will see more glows, more sparkles, more magical effects, etc. Additionally, we just did a new pass on a lot of the elite armor sets; you will be seeing those very soon too. Although I think that our art is spectacular already, improvements in the item appearance – both in differentiation, effects and variation – are still coming.

Zagesterama: If I preorder and become a “Founding Member” and choose the “$199 Lifetime Subscription”, does this include a continued subscription for any expansions you release in the future?

Jeff Anderson: No it does not; it only covers subscription. Any new expansions, updates, etc. (the original retail game as well as future ones) will be sold separately.

imageLepidus: Why did you choose to offer a cheaper subscription fee to pre-order customers?

Jeff Anderson: That is an easy question. As you know, we have been working on LOTRO for many years now. Over that time, we have developed an incredibly loyal following. They have been with us every step of the way, giving us advice on different features, helping us with ideas, checking our lore, and providing us with lots of emotional support. They are great!

So, when we sat down to think about the pre-order, it was obvious to us that we wanted to do something to say ‘thank you’ to all of those committed fans. And the pre-order offer is just that. Everything in the offer: the in-game items, the character roll-over, the beta access and (yes) even the pricing is our way of thanking their friendship.

Regarding the pricing, we wanted to come up with a compelling offer. So, while anyone who comes after the pre-order will be paying the standard $14.99 / month charge, we wanted to offer a $9.99 / month subscription price to our Founders. Alternatively, we heard from many players that they would rather pay $199 for a lifetime membership (and never have to pay a subscription ever again), so we made that an option too!

In short, we wanted to make sure that those customers that support us at the beginning receive some tangible benefits – both in-game and in-wallet!

Cryingduck: Will there be pre-paid cards?

Jeff Anderson: Yes, there will. You’ll be able to buy 60 day time cards.

Remember, this is your chance to quiz Turbine. You can post your future questions here.

To comment on this article, click below.

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