Lord Of The Rings Online: Developer Chat Log

WarCry: Welcome to the Lord of the Rings Online WarCry Dev Chat. We are proud to host the last dev chat prior to the launch of the World Tour. So get your fill of LOTRO with our honored guest, while we all patiently wait for Pre-order VIP launch and the beginning of the World Tour. If you haven’t already done so you can send your questions to @[QT]QuestionTaker. Also general chat is available in #warcry.
WarCry: And now here is Patience to say a few words before we meet the rest of the team.

LOTRO_Patience: Hi everyone! I’m Meghan “Patience” Rodberg, the community manager for LOTRO. I wrangle users, developers, and the occasional warg.
LOTRO_Patience: I just wanted to make a couple of announcements to start off with, if you don’t mind. 😉
LOTRO_Patience: First, if you’re looking to get into the Open Beta, there are several ways to do so! First and foremost, you can preorder the game, which will get you into the beta as early as Friday, March 30th.
LOTRO_Patience: If you haven’t pre-ordered yet, you can also pick up an Open Beta key from gamespot.com or the current issue of PC Gamer, which also includes the beta client on DVD. Either of these will let you start playing on April 6th.
LOTRO_Patience: We did a huge forums changeover today, so there are no longer two sets of forums for beta players and non-beta players. The URL for the new, combined forums is http://forums.lotro.com, so update your bookmarks!
LOTRO_Patience: And finally, to answer the question about what time the servers are coming up on Friday, this is top secret, and we’re keeping that close to the vest. This comes from lessons learned during previous launches.
LOTRO_Patience: That’s it! Thanks for coming tonight, and to Warcry for having us! 🙂

Mithril_Miser: Hey, everyone. Nik “Mithril Miser” Davidson here, everyone’s favorite lead game system designer. While we in general are powered by our fans, I specifically am powered by mass quantities of coffee, and it may show in my typing.

Scenario_Turbine: Hey all, my name is Matt “Scenario” Elliott. I’m one of LOTRO’s Worldbuilders – I’m one of those responsible for making the world and populating it with all sorts of fun stuff (including boars!).
Ringleader: Hey everyone. I’m Jeffrey Steefel, the Exec. Producer on LOTRO. Thanks for taking the time to join us tonight!

Aarzak-LOTRO: Hi, I am Aarzak, the Live Producer for LOTRO. Once the game launches.. you’re all MINE!!!! 😉

Amlug: Hey there, I’m Amlug, Jared Hall-Dugas, a Content Designer for LOTRO, a Red Sox nut, and an avid gamer, first time chatter, long time listener… nice to meet the room!

WarCry: Xix: I have activated pre-order founder’s key successfully. I’ll get character transfer. But, there will be a delay betweeen release and retail product getting from Amazon to my house via mail. Will there be a grace period for activating the retail key while still being able to play with transferred toons?
LOTRO_Patience: Hi Xix! Yes, there’s a grace period after launch. In our experience, though, most retailers are pretty good about getting your games to you quickly – but just in case, there is indeed a grace period.

WarCry: dor79: When will we get charged the $199? after the initial 30 days or right away?
Mithril_Miser: Hey, Dor. Everyone, including Founders, gets the free month. Billing kicks in after that.

WarCry: durath: What is the point of Farming? As it is now it produces ingredients for cooking, but at a far higher cost than just buying those same ingredients from NPC vendors.
Mithril_Miser: Yes, Farming primarily produces cooking ingredients. We’re looking very closely at cooking costs, and we’re also going to be removing some ingredients from vendors. Plus, there’s pipeweed, which is its own reward.

WarCry: Ryuujin_LoR: Will Solo Play be possible and enjoyable or will there be no path but joining a fellowship at higher levels?
Amlug: We very strongly support solo game play. Throughout our game there is a multitude of options for both solo players and for group based play. We will continue to support that for our end game. In fact, we want as much of the game as possible to be accessible to solo players.

WarCry: kvinna: Will the lastest patch notes be available on the site/forum before the servers open up on Friday? After? At all?
LOTRO_Patience: Hi kvinna 🙂 The latest patch notes are already available on the forums! Go check them out! 🙂

WarCry: Jerch: Hey guys. I understand there’s going to be raids in the game, and was wondering what the raid size was going to be for most content.
Mithril_Miser: The size for most content is “1”! But that’s not what you’re asking…
Mithril_Miser: The largest raid we’re planning on is a 4-group, 24-man raid. Different raids will have different sizes, but none above 24 are planned.

WarCry: SniperCT: Will Gondorians ever have grey eyes? They’ve been missing from the character generation for months, and it’s one of the things known about them, that grey eyes are known to exist among them as a people.
Ringleader: We’ve definitely been listening to this issue and have a fix – just depends now on when we get it in.

WarCry: fastcart: Question: Are there any differences between the Pre-order DVD and the PC Gamer DVD? Does the PC Gamer DVD include cut scenes and the high resolution client?
LOTRO_Patience: They’re typing… I swear it.
Scenario_Turbine: The typing! It hurts the ears!
Aarzak-LOTRO: The PC Gamer DVD and Pre-order DVD are similar, but the Pre-order is a little more recent. There’s lots that go with print mags and deadlines, let me tell you.
Aarzak-LOTRO: But either one should give you a great gameplay experience. When all is said and done, the best thing to do would be to use your Retail DVD when you get it and run from there.
LOTRO_Patience: The retail DVD will also have the intro cinematic, btw.
LOTRO_Patience: It’s pretty awesome. 😀

WarCry: Spartikus: Are their currently any plans for regular live events, monthly content patches or even better an active live events team?
Ringleader: We’ve always focused on live events in our games – many of you may remember some of the events from AC, and we have a number of AC veterans on the Live team for LOTRO. We are currently adding to our tech to allow us to do even more cool stuff moving forward. We won’t spoil the fun and lay them out here, but we already have some events planned, and that will continue. We’ve even tried to have small events in Alpha/Beta, like the Bday party
Ringleader: …..Bday party for Tolkien at the Party Tree, or the chaotic End of World event we just had.
Mithril_Miser: I thought the chaos was well controlled.
* LOTRO_Patience wags her Wargy tail.
LOTRO_Patience: So you say.
Ringleader: As for content, we’ll have plenty of new stuff for players on a regular basis. We’re pretty sure people are going to be surprised to see the extent of our first update and how soon it comes 🙂

WarCry: themantommy: Will minstrels be able to use other instruments besides lutes in their battle animations?
Mithril_Miser: A good suggestion, really. It’s something we can look into post ship. Naturally our music system highlights all the different instrument animations, but combat anims work a little differently. I’ll poke some people.

WarCry: Kalavente: Is there anyway to add further description to the named trophies used in crafting? It is quite hard to find some of them needed to make the really good items
Mithril_Miser: It’s intentional that the items be hard to find – some of those critical crafting successes are pretty amazing. But I think appending more info to the descriptions would be helpful, yes.

WarCry: Boddington: any plans to address the lag issue in areas like bree for folks who don’t have top-end machines?
LOTRO_Patience: +Wargario, I mean Scenario, is typing furiously 😀

WarCry: While we are waiting just a reminder that general chat is available in #warcry
Scenario_Turbine: Over the course of Alpha and Beta, we have worked to improve performance on both server and client. In the case of Bree specifically, we recently made some changes to the town in order to help with the performance issues some users were experience.
Scenario_Turbine: Going forward, we will continue to keep an eye on key locations and do what we can to make sure the game performs well.

WarCry: Navix: There is a lot of talk about stats not being worth messing with, if you don’t plan on making them worthwhile, is there anything else in place to improve, such as Proc effects
Mithril_Miser: Actually, some recent changes have really emphasised stats in your character’s overall effectiveness. As a result of that, equipment and especially your Virtues will be of increased effectiveness.

WarCry: syck: I know it’s early to ask, but would you add new zones in regular patches or are they strictly for expansions?
Ringleader: Well, we’re doing lots of things in updates, and not waiting for expansion. Stay tuned to see what crops up in our first update 🙂

WarCry: Steerpike: Hey there! I realize you may not be able to provide much detail with this one, but to what extent are the repair costs for tanking classes being reexamined? Some people report extremely high repair bills in the high-teens to mid-twenties. Any further info here?
Mithril_Miser: Repair costs are the bane of my life. :/ Yes, we acknowledge that there is a problem with repair bills, especially for heavy-armor classes. Expect that bite to get less… toothy.

WarCry: Aegius: I was wondering, do the devs have any future plans to make PvP a bit more of a part of the game?
Mithril_Miser: Monster play has been an extremely well-received implementation of PvP that has, in my un-humble opinion, done a good job of capturing the classic conflict embodied by the War of the Ring. Still, we’re looking at developing content that will provide much greater rewards for players who participate in PvMP. Can’t spill the details just yet, but stay tuned.

WarCry: joel: Can players kill legendary monsters that were killed by the fellowship? for example: the balrog and smaug ect.
Mithril_Miser: Well… no. The fellowship killed them, right? There are still drakes and wyrms in the world, but Smaug? He’s a bit dead to get killed again.
Mithril_Miser: And Balrogs? You don’t get to kill THE Balrog, the Balrog of Moria, Durin’s Bane, what with the fire and the shadow and the hey-hey… but there’s more than one Balrog, you know…

WarCry: Elsydeon: What sort of steps are planed to prevent ‘farming’ (For the purpose of making real money off of ingame stuff) from damaging the economy?
Ringleader: Well, that’s a larger discussion, and something that everyone in this space is watching closely. Our primary focus is to make a game world that is well balanced for our paying subscribers and do our best to prevent anything we can control from interfering with that balance.
Ringleader: In terms of what some people call the “Secondary Market”, we are not participating in it, nor can we control it.
Ringleader: No question these are issues that the MMO industry in general are going to be looking at closely.

WarCry: malus72: Hi , I wanted to ask with the sheer number of preorders and possible open beta players will you have enough servers online and be able to quickly add more to avoid overcrowding and login issues?
Aarzak-LOTRO: No, we are planning for a complete meltdown in our server room and for my job to consist of running around with whips yelling at people…. 😉
Aarzak-LOTRO: But seriously we are doing everything we can to try to prepare for what is to come. It has been one of the major focuses of my job here, and if things go wrong, I will be in BIG trouble.
Mithril_Miser: With a bit more certainty, let me say this.
Mithril_Miser: We’ve got a bunch of servers ready, and a bunch more on standby. If we still manage to overwhelm them all, well, we’ll divert some of the dump trucks full of money to get new hardware, stat.
LOTRO_Patience: Just in case people haven’t been reading the forums, we’ve announced the names of the first seven servers: Brandywine, Elendilmir, Gladden, Landroval, Meneldor, Silverlode, and Windfola. We have more ready to be lit up as needed… and we already know we’ll probably need them. 🙂

WarCry: Cyrollin796: Hello. It’s heard there is a different and wonderful instance technology in the LOTRO. How does it work?
Mithril_Miser: Well, we use our instances in a few different (and quite possibly wonderful) ways. In addition to the kinds you’ve seen before, we also use instancing to provide experiences that change based on where the player is on his own personal epic story. Neat stuff.

WarCry: Geb: Will the game support the creation and support of smaller Kinships as well as larger ones being created now? It seems that at endgame some MMOs become filled with large elite guilds.
Mithril_Miser: Our minimum Kinship size is 6 – no larger than a single fellowship. While I think large guilds are a normal and healthy part of an MMO, our data has shown that throughout beta, there have been many small, thriving Kinships. I’d expect that to remain the case in Live, too.

WarCry: SniperCT: Can you lay out for us any concrete plans for the music system, going forward over the next few months?
Ringleader: We’ve been blown away at the response to the music system so far. So we’re going to do a bunch of things to make it even more fun.
Ringleader: You’ll be seeing some improvements and expansion to the system in our first update.

WarCry: Themagikz: Hey, what is the main purpose of smithing? How does it benefit our characters?
Mithril_Miser: At first I thought you said “smiting”, which is what we were doing to characters last night in the End of the World event!
Mithril_Miser: There’s actually two branches of metalsmithing, armorsmithing and weaponsmithing. They make, unsurprisingly… armor and weapons.

WarCry: Ellerina: How often (generally speaking) do you plan on updating the game?
Ringleader: Well again, Turbine’s always been pretty focused on content updates
Ringleader: You’ll be seeing the content of the game expand fairly quickly after launch and tho we’re not releasing details, rest assured that you’ll have new cool stuff to chew on quite often

WarCry: Meowness: What in-game instant messenging features are you going to offer?
Mithril_Miser: Well, we have all the chat features you might expect – regional channels, guild channels, officer channels, etc. We let you dynamically spawn chat windows to handle private messages. Pretty robust suite of tools, all told.

WarCry: Andrew: If this is just Eriador, will explansions be released for every other area? eg Gondor, Rohan, and others. And if so we they be as alrge as Eriadore as for making a huge game?
Ringleader: We have licensed the entirety of Middle-earth and we’ll be building all of it over time. We started in Eriador for lots of reasons, but we decided to make sure we paid good attention to depth in each area. So our updates and our Explansions will move players out into most of Middle-earth over time.

WarCry: Lorekeeper: One other question and I’ll quit. Is there going to be a female Dwarf race?
LOTRO_Patience: Aaaw, don’t quit… 😀 So, the dwarven issue is interesting. We actually polled our players a while back and the split was interesting – most of them thought the male and female dwarves should look exactly alike with either no or very little difference.
LOTRO_Patience: In the end, we removed most references to gender for dwarves in the game, so players can roleplay them however they like.
LOTRO_Patience: The biggest exception is in the pedigree system; if you adopt another dwarf, you become “Son of” or “Father of.” We may revisit that at some future point, but for now, players should find in most cases there is no gender specified for dwarves.

WarCry: Valinorik: Hey Devs, great to have you here! I was wondering, is fishing currently being considered for this game?
* LOTRO_Patience jumps up and down. Fishing!!
Mithril_Miser: Oh man. So, I’m going to catch hell for this, but seriously. I’m shocked and amazed that people have their hearts so set on getting an activity in the game that is, almost by definition, mostly sitting around and doing nothing.
LOTRO_Patience: But it’s FISHING!
Mithril_Miser: But! Just because I don’t understand it, doesn’t mean we don’t recognized how much people want it.
Mithril_Miser: So considered? Over the objections borne of countless miserable family vacations up to mosquito-infested northern Minnesota, yes it is.

WarCry: Celethar: What news on housing?
Ringleader: We are super aware that housing is important to a lot of players. Clearly, as the community matures and grows in Middle-earth, this becomes even more important. It’s also important that with a system like housing, we do it well and in a way that really world in the world.
Mithril_Miser: World in the world?
Aarzak-LOTRO: works in the world…..
Ringleader: Works in the world
Aarzak-LOTRO: I think
LOTRO_Patience: He’s a little tired.
LOTRO_Patience: Or something.
Ringleader: So…suffice it to say that we know housing is important and it’s really a matter of when and how…

WarCry: Maubee: Any chance the Captain’s herald buff can be changed to an AoE buff for all free people of middle earth, not just their fellowship?
Mithril_Miser: ALL of them? Damn, that’d be a nice buff. 🙂
Mithril_Miser: Right now, it’s fellowship-restricted for purposes of twink-mitigation. Also, I never thought I’d use the phrase “twink-mitigation” in a sentence.
LOTRO_Patience: You should see my dictionary in Word.

WarCry: Xix: Will there be a more extensive manual before Friday? Like, explaining how combat works for example. O_O
LOTRO_Patience: Well, it’s like this:
LOTRO_Patience: Stick them with the pointy end.
LOTRO_Patience: 😀
Mithril_Miser: We will definitely have a big, detailed manual in the retail box. I helped edit it. 😛
Mithril_Miser: Not sure when/if that’s going out via the interweb.
LOTRO_Patience: Not before Friday though.
LOTRO_Patience: If you play through the newbie instances, you should get a pretty good grasp of how the combat works.
LOTRO_Patience: There’s a tutorial that’ll walk you through it.. and it’s REALLY hard to die in the newbie experiences. 🙂

WarCry: Xanius: My question is, Mithril, have you found a suitable replacement for the corset made of knives the economy decided to wear?
Mithril_Miser: People are still in awe of my metaphor crafting skillz. “Corset made of knives” refers to a beta change that made cash a wee bit hard to come by. (Note: Not so wee.) Since then, we’ve made a number of adjustments back in the player’s favor, and we’ve got one or two more planned.

WarCry: And to close up this evening with.

WarCry: Falc: LOTRO Rocks. Your thoughts?
* LOTRO_Patience clears her throat.
LOTRO_Patience: Ahem.
Scenario_Turbine: Here she goes getting all serious.
LOTRO_Patience: One does not simply… ROCK… into Mordor.
LOTRO_Patience: But we agree. It’s one hell of a game and we’re very proud.
Mithril_Miser: Ah, closing with the pop-culture pun. Is there any other way?
* Amlug loves loves loves the LOTRO.
Scenario_Turbine: If only we closed with a boar joke…
LOTRO_Patience: That’s SOW tired.
Ringleader: Pun hell has commenced
Scenario_Turbine: The was boaredline pun…
Mithril_Miser: Leave now, folks. It’s only going to go downhill from here.
LOTRO_Patience: Such a stick in the mud.
LOTRO_Patience: Thanks for coming everyone.. you might want to cover your eyes now.
Ringleader: Cmon back for the midnight showing
Aarzak-LOTRO: And try the Pork
LOTRO_Patience: tusk tusk.
Ringleader: Mithril will have less, uh, inventory on…
Scenario_Turbine: Cover your eyes… that is if you hadn’t already by the “Corset of Knives” bit.
LOTRO_Patience: I think we’re done. Thanks for coming everyone 🙂
Amlug: Thanks guys!

WarCry: Well that is all the time we have with the devs tonight. We do thank them for joining us. The chat log will be available shortly on http://lotro.warcry.com
Ringleader: Thanks everyone!
LOTRO_Patience: Don’t forget to check out the World Tour! You can get more details at http://www.lotro.com.
Scenario_Turbine: Thanks alot for sending us all your questions!
Mithril_Miser: Oh yeah. I’m taking my mithril and going home. Goodnight, all!
LOTRO_Patience: Open Beta begins Friday for Pre-order customers and April 6th for everyone else! See you then! 🙂

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