Lord of the Rings Online: Dev Chat Log

WarCry: Welcome to the first Lord of the Rings Online WarCry Dev Chat. Thank you all for stopping by tonight. If you haven’t already done so you can send your questions to @[QT]QuestionTaker. Also general chat is available in #warcry. Just remember no Beta talk there.

WarCry: Now on to our honored guests to introduce themselves and answer your questions.
LOTRO_Patience: Hi everyone! Thanks for coming tonight. 🙂 I’m Meghan “Patience” Rodberg, the community manager for LOTRO.
RingLeader: Hey everyone! I’m Jeffrey Steefel, the Executive Producer of LOTRO. It’s great to be abvle to talk with you guys a bit about the game.
Mithril_Miser: I’m Nik “Mithril Miser” Davidson, Lead Game Systems Designer. I nerfed your Champion, and I feel very little regret. 😉
RingLeader: :::throws stick at Mithril_Miser:::

WarCry: DelmarWynn: Can you tell us about how preorders will work for the Collector’s Edition? I want to get mine ordered.
LOTRO_Patience: We haven’t announced the Collector’s Edition yet, however, most retailers will allow you to transfer your pre-order once it’s announced.

WarCry: LeStudd: What are the limits for founder character’s in open beta?
LOTRO_Patience: We’ll be announcing the details really soon. Keep an eye on lotro.com for the announcement. 🙂

WarCry: asdfsdf: Hi, Im interested in the playable instruments, are there quests or more features centered around the instruments you play yourself?
Mithril_Miser: This started off as a little experimental feature, and it’s turned into one of my favorites.
Mithril_Miser: For those of you that don’t know, LOTRO has a music system in which you can essentially turn your keyboard into a… um… keyboard, and play music in the game.
Mithril_Miser: Already, people in beta have been composing original songs, as well as adapting some well-known melodies for play in-game.
Mithril_Miser: It started off as an experiment, but given how positively it’s been received, we’re planning to expand the feature over time.
Mithril_Miser: More instruments, more features, more ways to channel your inner Mozart. Or Jagger.
LOTRO_Patience: Our beta players have put together a thread of “sheet music” on the beta forums, actually. And Ramen swears she heard someone playing Silent Night, albeit badly, during last weekend’s Stress Test Event.

WarCry: Creesher: What will the lotro instances be like? would you mind throughly explaining its features and what not?
Mithril_Miser: This is a big one. We use instances for a few reasons in LOTRO.
Mithril_Miser: First, and perhaps most importantly, we have instances that further the primary storyline of the game – a story that works parallel to the Fellowship’s journey,
Mithril_Miser: as well as crossing their path from time to time.
Mithril_Miser: Those Story instance
Mithril_Miser: s, as we referr to them, are filled with drama sequences, where we take the stories out of the chat boxes, and put them in front of players to be interacted with.
Mithril_Miser: Quite cool.
Mithril_Miser: We also have a number of instances which stand primarily as challenges for groups of players – these are quest driven, but with an eye toward repeatability.
Mithril_Miser: Lastly, we have Raid instances. Our raid groups cap at 24 people – our testing has shown that that’s really the sweet spot in terms of valuing individual contributions, and still letting you get a truly epic feel.
Mithril_Miser: But again, it’s worth stressing – the large majority of our game is wide-open and uninstanced. The sprawling world of Middle-earth is a draw in and of itself.

WarCry: Jules: Are there plans for some type of weekly/bi-weekly/montly/etc server events, for high, mid and low level players ?
LOTRO_Patience: Hi Jules! Yes, we’re working on a plan for live events now. We’ll try to make sure they’re fun for everyone!

WarCry: PsionicFox: Could you tell us a little more about how the monster PvP will work?
RingLeader: Whew! Well a lot to tell, so I’ll start with an overview…
RingLeader: We were faced with an interesting challenge for LOTRO and PvP. We know that conflict in MMOs is very important to players, and the War of the Ring is all about Good vs. Evil. At the same time, though, we really don’t want hobbits and elves mercilissly PK-ing each other on the steps of Bag-end.
RingLeader: This is the discussion that eventually led us to Monster Play as it is now in LOTRO. Basically, you are able to go into a vast, PvP-specific region (The Ettenmoors) as one of several iconic Tolkien monsters, and get into it with other high-level player characters. There’s a lot to do in the region and you’ll always have something to take on, whether NPC or player.
RingLeader: While playing in Monster Play, you’ll be collecting Destiny Points, that you’ll be able to use to upgrade your monster, or even spend as buffs on any of your Player Mains.
RingLeader: As you face off with other players, you’ll be rewarded for kills with Infamy (Monsters) or Renown (players) and these will drive your overall PvMP Rating. You’ll be ranked against your opponents and everyone else in the world.
RingLeader: Finally, there are controllable areas in the Ettenmoors that can be raided and controlled by either side.
RingLeader: There is a lot to talk about, but this should help give you a basic idea….

WarCry: Krindorf: How are Turbine going to be handling Lindon and Moria, will these regions be dedicated expansions, or just straight forward content updates?
Mithril_Miser: An interesting question, and one that will get a equally interesting non-answer. 😉
Mithril_Miser: Moria is huge. Huge. Moria could be its own expansion. Practically its own game.
Mithril_Miser: And Lindon deserves a great deal of care. We’re going to be doing both regular content updates and expansions – I can’t really break down which will fall where.
Mithril_Miser: But these are exactly the discussions we’re having these days, and we’ve got some big stuff planned.

WarCry: Lren: How does combat work is it like dungeons and dragons or more like warcraft?
Mithril_Miser: While DDO and LOTRO share some graphical technologies, they are two very, very different games. DDO is heavily instanced and based on a very innovative fast-paced combat system.
Mithril_Miser: LOTRO is more of a traditional MMO when it comes to combat. It was one of the harder decisions to make in the development process – whether to create a game that would be immediately recognizable and playable by millions of MMO fans,
Mithril_Miser: or whether to take a chance and really try to innovate with the combat system. We chose the former, and it’s paid off for us – it’s given us the freedom to innovate in other areas, knowing that our combat model is proven and rock-solid.
Mithril_Miser: I could write a book about this (and I fully intend to one day) but now is not that day.

WarCry: Malkosha: Even though the books were based on a Fellowship, what about us? Can we solo lay to the top or will we be forced to group?
RingLeader: Yup, Fellowship is, uh, sorta relevant to LOTRO 🙂 But the key for us was to make being part of a Fellowship fun, not locking you into one.
RingLeader: We’ve intentionally designed the game to allow you to experience a great deal of it solo if that’s your thing. If you’re patient, crazy or sleepless enough, you can overlevel yourself, buff to the nines and take it on solo in many cases.
RingLeader: Of course, there are still some places in Middle-earth you do not simply walk into…

WarCry: [Cu]Guillotine: Will there be any way to modify the user interface? If so, what language will be used?
Mithril_Miser: UI customization is important, and we’ve tried to make that process pretty easy to manage. The UI is skinnable, and just about all aspects of the UI can be repositioned and reoriented.
Mithril_Miser: It’s not wide-open to scripting, but there’s a nice variety of things you can tweak.

WarCry: Kryth: Can you tell us a little about the story of LotRO?
Mithril_Miser: Well, I suppose there are a couple books I could point you to…
Mithril_Miser: And flippant as that answer was, there’s more than a little truth to it.
Mithril_Miser: LOTRO’s story is the story of the Fellowship of the Ring. Tolkien’s stories spanned a huge world, and massive story arcs.
Mithril_Miser: But as broad and epic as the story was, it left a lot implied, rather than stated explicitly.
Mithril_Miser: During FotR, there’s a worry that the growing threat to the North, Angmar, might mobilize and overrun all of Eriador.
Mithril_Miser: But it doesn’t. For the fellowship to succeed, a number of victories had to be won. And Tolkien doesn’t fully spell out how it happened.
Mithril_Miser: So we do.
Mithril_Miser: It was you guys.
Mithril_Miser: The story of LOTRO is the story of the battle against the forces of the Witch-King, a battle that must be won for the greater war to stand a chance.
Mithril_Miser: If I go on like this much longer, I’m going to need an epic musical score to play in the IRC channel.

WarCry: Anni: How did the stress test go?
LOTRO_Patience: Nik’s waxing poetic again.
LOTRO_Patience: Hey Anni 🙂 The Stress Test Event went really well. Thanks to everyone who played, actually! The feedback we got from the stress test players has been great, and we’re looking forward to getting them back into the game soon.

WarCry: Glorfindel: will all characters from the trilogy be in the game, like Glorfindel or Radigast?
Mithril_Miser: I can imagine why Glorfindel wants to know whether Glorfindel is in the game.
Mithril_Miser: “All” is a bit more than we can promise. But we feature a very large number of characters, both major and small. Some are integral to quests, some make brief cameo appearances.
Mithril_Miser: As to your two specific examples, yes to both.
LOTRO_Patience: Hey, Annuvin’s here. 🙂
Annuvin: Greetings all! I’m Annuvin, Design Director for Lord of the Rings Online. My hobbies are tanning, grooming, and being late for Dev chats.

WarCry: ORAC: How long do the developers expect it to take for an average player to create a max level character? Will updates be geared then to come out to increase level caps correspondingly?
Annuvin: That’s a good question!
Annuvin: Currently, our plan is to continue providing compelling continuing content for all levels. What does that mean, you ask? Well, for people that are at the higher end, there will be additional things for them to do.
Annuvin: Since our advancement is multi-layered, I would expect to see more Deed’s/Accomplishments for all levels before we start raising our level cap. There’s a lot to do in Middle-Earth, friends!

WarCry: KlugWieBrot: I’d also like to ask how you guys are planning to handle servers and different localisations. Will you provide one set of servers where the whole world will play on (or at least will you give out access to all servers to everyone), or will you use the bad “WoW aproach” were people will have to buy the different versions of the game to play on each set of servers?
LOTRO_Patience: Hello KlugWieBrot! We have a variety of partners publishing and operating the game in various areas around the world. Players in Europe should check out Codemasters to sign up for the beta and check out the game. They just announced their pre-order program, actually.
LOTRO_Patience: Stay tuned for announcements in Asia and other markets.

WarCry: Tasz: Can you shed a little light on the confusion around whether or not Autralian/NZ players will have access to the Turbine founders program?
LOTRO_Patience: This issue is largely dictated by the retailers, and we’re still in negotiation with retailers in those territories.

WarCry: Sleaker: In the Content Interview on Gametrailers.com it was mentioned that a Web interface for seeing character statistics, blogs, and especially “Google Maps” would be available are these features still being planned on and worked on? It was stated that “You could see like google maps what is really going on in the world” – What is intended by this statement? Does it relate to seeing where players are at, or how MPvP is goin
RingLeader: We are planning to release features that extend the social aspects of our game. We’re going to surface statistics as well. The goal is to broaden the overall LOTRO community in as many ways as we can.

WarCry: razor: Will only female members of the Raid be able to kill the Witch-King?
Mithril_Miser: Many answers come to mind.
Mithril_Miser: First off, I don’t think that you’ll be killing the witch king contemporaneously with Frodo leaving the Shire. That would be… odd.
Mithril_Miser: Second, how do we really know that they’re female? Maybe we could monitor your voice chat for tone and inflection. Hmm.
Mithril_Miser: But no. The Raid bosses have yet to be revealed. You may be surprised. You’ll probably be eaten.

WarCry: Falconwing: Are there any plans to allow users to play their own music from their computer in place of the normal game music?
Annuvin: Greetings Falconwing!
Annuvin: So, I think we all like listening to our own brand of music while playing through LOTRO content. Unfortunately, we don’t support that through our game. I suggest turning down your game music, and running a music program in the background.
Annuvin: And if you’re feeling ambitious, you can jam out your own tune on our Music System’s fully functional Mandolin.

WarCry: PsionicFox: How much customisation will be allowed in the appearance of characters? Will we be able to alter the look of our character’s clothing, allowing for visual customisation?
Mithril_Miser: Quite a bit, really. Including a system by which you can craft dyes, and customize the color of your armor in-game.

WarCry: XxMerlinxX: Are bug reports helping?
Mithril_Miser: I cannot begin to describe the amount of “yes”.

WarCry: xiaoyu: Can a casual player expect to gear themselves at max level well in comparison to hard-core raiding groups?
Annuvin: That’s a rough one. We’ve identified that fact that users really play in two different styles are high level (staggeringly similar to lower levels) Groups, and non groups.
Annuvin: As a result, we’ve worked on three separate paths to equipment. Raids, Instances, and Solo jackpoting.
Annuvin: I suppose the other gotcha in that question is how you define Casual.
Annuvin: I choose to define it as: A person that likes playing LOTRO enough to get to max level, but doesn’t like to organize with 23 other players.
Annuvin: If you buy my definition, then I think that the casual player will be able to get equipment comparable to Raid people.

WarCry: Guest781: what are the minimum requirments for the game going to be?
LOTRO_Patience: Hey there! You can find the system requirements at http://www.lotro.com/preorder 🙂

WarCry: Bokmal: Are raids instanced only? Or are there some contested encounters ( Open for everybody ) to fight over
Annuvin: Well, I’ll interpret that as two questions:
Annuvin: 1 – We have Raid bosses on Landscape. They tend to hang out in Angmar, on the Witch King’s (old?) lawn. Use caution! (as Mithril_Miser stated, they will eat you)
Annuvin: 2 – We have Monster Play. There will be plenty of Raid targets for everyone to fight over.

WarCry: vagabondchef: will we find relics from the first or second age a.k.a. sillmarillion or have any of that info in game?
Mithril_Miser: Get thee off my lawn, mortal.
Mithril_Miser: Vagabondchef? That’s an AC1 name if ever I saw one. 🙂
Mithril_Miser: First off, about the license – we work from the Trilogy, and the Hobbit. We don’t have rights to the Silmarillion. Our rule is this – we don’t contradict it, but if something is ONLY mentioned there, we can’t use it.
Mithril_Miser: But let it never be said that we lacked for richness of source material. People who are really fans of Tolkien’s work will really appreciate a lot of the little inclusions we’ve managed to make.

WarCry: Teaster: Will LOTRO be Vista supported?
LOTRO_Patience: Hi Teaster! Yes, we’re an official “Games for Windows” title!

WarCry: BdKty: In Many mmorpgs crafting becomes obsolete as gear from high levels/raids is far better then anything you could make or buy. How do you plan to balance crafting vs looting to keep both worthwhile?
Mithril_Miser: And the room says in unison, “Nik can answer that one!”
LOTRO_Patience: We believe in you, Nik!
Mithril_Miser: Yes. Top-tier loot in our game can come from a number of different sources. One of them is crafting.
Mithril_Miser: People who master their Professions will have the ability to get the rare critical success on their crafted items, and you can help your odds by collecting rare optional ingredients to stick in your recipes.
Mithril_Miser: On top of that, recipes come in different levels of rarity. There’s the common recipes, the loot-dropped-only recipes, and the one-shot loot-dropped recipes. One shot is what it sounds like – you get one try per scroll.
Mithril_Miser: A crit success on a top-tier one shot recipe? Yeah, you’ll like that.

WarCry: Dastur: Will the environment affect the player?
Annuvin: We manifest our environment in two major ways:
Annuvin: 1 – 3 words, Liquid hot magma. Or other fairly dangerous/dubious substance that erode your hero’s flesh.
Annuvin: 2 – Dread/Hope. Depending on where you are in Middle-Earth, you will be either inspired (Rivendell), or filled with Dread. (re: Witch King’s Lawn)
Annuvin: When you are in a hopeful area, your character has bonuses. When you are filled with dread? Not so much.

WarCry: Just reminder all Please /msg nick:, /q nick:, or double click on a question taker (names starting with [QT]) to submit your questions!
Mithril_Miser: Begone from my lawn! I gesture ominously to the “beware of fell-beast” sign! (Never mind that at this point in the storyline, the Nine have not called the fell-beasts!)

WarCry: Attea: Q: will i have to have a credit card for the monthly payment?
Annuvin: We plan on having game cards for launch. (insert witty pop culture reference here… or maybe not so witty. Your choice)

WarCry: Jules: As far as GM / Customer Service within LotrO, what can we expect? That is, will there be 24/7 coverage of live GMs ?
LOTRO_Patience: Hey Jules! Yes, there will be 24/7 support from our in-game support staff… aka the GM’s.

WarCry: person280: will there be cut-scenes?
Annuvin: Yes, we will have cut scenes. We’ll be using them to enhance the tie between the Epic story thread within LOTRO, and the traditional voyage of the Fellowship.
Annuvin: They are pretty slick, if I do say so myself.

WarCry: Christian: In the future, is there a possibility to see evil classes such as orcs and urukhais?
Mithril_Miser: Ah, the future.
Mithril_Miser: In the future, I was promised flying cars.
Annuvin: And rocketships.
Mithril_Miser: Since I came to accept that there were no flying cars, I tend to be very cautious about what promises I make about the future.
Mithril_Miser: We have a very robust and entertaining means of playing evil races – Monster Play.
Mithril_Miser: It’s pretty darn awesome, unique, and innovative. I know what you’re really asking, and I’d love to just flat out say no. Or yes. But that would be making a flying cars-level prediction.

WarCry: nioin3k: Do instances decrease the lag for the user, compared to non-instance areas?
Annuvin: Well, that’s sort of complex. Our goal is to ensure that lag doesn’t hamper your play. We all know that’s virtually impossible to assure. If you are lagged, and run into an instance, you’ll have a greater chance of not being lagged.
Annuvin: However, I really don’t know where this theoretical lag is coming from. If you are streaming movies while playing, I don’t think an instance will lessen your lag. If you are not, then it may help.
Annuvin: But don’t quote me.

WarCry: Guest787: are there More races planed for content patches? or will we have to wait for some sort of expansion for something of that Magnitide?
Mithril_Miser: But they will quote you. You’re doing a dev chat.
Annuvin: Curses!
Mithril_Miser: Anyway. A new race is a big thing in no small part due to the sheer amount of art, animations, etc. For that reason, we’d rather bundle that on a new disc, which certainly implies an expansion.
Mithril_Miser: And yet… I stray dangerously close to talk of the capital-F “Future”, which differs from the regular future in that I don’t have it on my schedule yet. 🙂

WarCry: nickasafg: I’m sure this has been asked before, but I’d just like to hear it from a Dev first hand… the lifetime membership, does that cover the monthly payment for every future LOTRO game and expansion?
LOTRO_Patience: It covers the subscription fee for the life of the game, but you’ll still need to buy boxed expansions.

WarCry: H4x0ticu5266: Monster play seems to be more difficult than regular play. Will solo quest be added to MP or will this be the eventual difficulty of the game for players as well.
Annuvin: Monster play tends to be more difficult than regular play, since there tend to be pesky hobbitses hunting you while you’re trying to do simple things, like despoil hobbit villages, or slaughter the free people of Middle-Earth.
Annuvin: With that said, we plan on having solo viable monster play quests, for those people that just want to be monstrous alone, without pestering anyone.

WarCry: opiate: Are there plans to have the combat logs stored in a text file locally, so we can parse the data and see what is happening in raids etc ?
Annuvin: There is a legend… of a place…
Mithril_Miser: Oh. They seriously want me to talk about Thunderdome.
Annuvin: Do not name it!
Mithril_Miser: Ok. You’ve been warned. I get to tell a little story.
RingLeader: More like a tall tale
Annuvin: — pulls up a pillow.
LOTRO_Patience: (Nik never tells a *little* story)
Mithril_Miser: LOTRO has its set of major features – features that it needs to survive, features that are central and key. These features get scheduled, have plenty of love, attention, and art and engineering support.
Mithril_Miser: Then there are the minor features. The “wouldn’t it be great if”. And let me tell you, nobody’s got a monopoly on great ideas – we get awesome feature ideas from everyone from execs to customer service guys.
RingLeader: ::Chants:: “MANY GO IN!!!!”
Mithril_Miser: These minor features need to be scheduled amongst themselves. There are good ones, and bad ones. There are easy ones and hard ones. And to be fair and just to all worthy ideas, we have created a place…
RingLeader: ::Chants:: “FEW COME OUT!”
Mithril_Miser: They call it…
Mithril_Miser: THUNDERDOME.
Annuvin: (revered silence)
Mithril_Miser: Basically, all the minor features get to fight to the death. Usually a developer will sponsor a noble thunderdome warrior, and we will convene a gladatorial combat. Er, a meeting. Yes, a normal meeting with no weapons at all.
RingLeader: The grease-pen is mightier than the sword…
Mithril_Miser: Many features have left thunderdome, and have gone on to fame and glory. The music system, Hope and Dread, conjunctions, legendary traits, all sorts of features came from this humble beginning.
Mithril_Miser: Then… there are the others.
Annuvin: Conjunctions = Fellowship Manuevers/Skills.
Annuvin: Mithril_Miser needs to stay on message.
LOTRO_Patience: Hahahaa
Mithril_Miser: Through no fault of their own, they fell in valiant combat. And others still are still fighting to this day – they yearn for their time in the sun.
Mithril_Miser: You are totally breaking my narrative flow.
Annuvin: Wahhh.
Mithril_Miser: Anyway.
Mithril_Miser: Combat text logging is a good idea. It’s a nice little feature. And it’s got a bronze helmet and a trident, and its day will come.
Mithril_Miser: But not for ship.
Mithril_Miser: The end.
Annuvin: (This is a chance for you to ask questions, oh enraptured audience… otherwise, this goes on FOREVER)
LOTRO_Patience: Are you done, Nik?
LOTRO_Patience: Really?
RingLeader: He is DONE!
LOTRO_Patience: You’re SURE?
RingLeader: YES
Mithril_Miser: Hey, you guys asked for it.
Mithril_Miser: By name.

WarCry: FastDwarf: Will being Monstrous automatically ally you with the Witch King or the Dark Lord? Or is EVERONE your enemy?
Annuvin: Being a Monster more or less allies you with Angmar and the Witch-King (and a good thing too, since they need all the allies they can get!)
Annuvin: (I mean, have you seen the rate at which the ‘heroes’ kill off their minions? It’s pretty large. Just today, you’ve killed 2,374 Orcs!)
Annuvin: Anyhow, while there is some infighting among the forces of Darkness, the Witch King doesn’t really incentivize it, and the Orcs don’t want to lose their HMO (for reasons covered above).

WarCry: Erunaman411: Will monsters be able to brawl or even kill other monsters? (Think of the end of Two Towers and outset of Return of the King with the orcs in Mordor)
Annuvin: Monsters can in fact slaughter other monsters. They don’t fight other Orcs/monsters loyal to the Witch King.
Annuvin: But that Bear over there… eyeing you hungrily? Yeah… he’s asking for it.
Mithril_Miser: I don’t know if bears are monsters per se.
Mithril_Miser: But they are the #1 threat facing Eriador.

WarCry: Falconwing: Is there going to eventually be the option to leave a game-based email for other members in your fellowship and such? Basically, leave a message for when they log back on.
Annuvin: And they will kill you.
RingLeader: Who let him out again?
Mithril_Miser: Indeed! We have a very robust in-game mail system.
Mithril_Miser: Individual mails, COD item delivery, even Kinship-wide emails for guild leaders.
Mithril_Miser: Good stuff.
LOTRO_Patience: Okay.. I think we’re going to call it a night and go home. 🙂

WarCry: Well that is about all the time we have for the devs tonight. I want to thank them for taking the time to join us tonight and thank all of you for coming!
LOTRO_Patience: Thanks for coming, everybody – there were some awesome questions asked tonight. Don’t forget to sign up for the beta if you haven’t already at http://www.lotro.com 🙂

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