In the third and final article from Tim Turner’s visit to Turbine’s Boston HQ he looks at the soon to launch Lord of the Rings Online. In this article, he talks about the game, where it’s going and some of its neat features including the in-game music player.
Article by Tim Turner
Recently I had the chance to visit Turbine’s Headquarters for one last sneak peak of Lord of the Rings Online before it hits the shelves. With only days left before pre-order customers are let into the world of Middle-earth, members of the LOTRO team took time out of their busy schedule to give a preview of what is new in LOTRO and what is coming down the road.
Our day started with a tour of the Turbine facility led by PR man Adam Mersky. First stop was walking down the hallway of art. Here we saw concept artwork from all of the Turbine products from the early days of Asheron’s Call and Asheron’s Call 2 up to the recent images of Lord of the Rings Online. Having played all of these over the years, it was a nice walk down memory lane. Next we visited the main DDO development area where many of the developers were already hard at work, and all I could think was I had just finished my 2nd cup of coffee.
Our final destination was through the LOTRO development area and into the meeting room where we met up with Jeff Anderson, CEO of Turbine, and Jeffrey Steefel, Executive Producer for LOTRO.
Jeff Anderson opened up the show with a bit about upcoming changes including a bit on the intro movie (which is very cool by the way) and different cinematic scenes your character will experience throughout their adventures. The game mechanics allow for non-player characters (NPCs) along the way to know who you are and how you have been helping in Middle-earth. An example that Jeff gave us is that if you are a low level Elf and you decide to run all the way to Rivendell to meet Elrond, he is going to look at you and say “Who are you?” However, if you are the correct level elf and have gone through the quests and epic adventures then when you get to Rivendell and see Elrond again, he will remember you and talk to you as someone he remembers. Now how does this affect the cinematic scenes? Well as you adventure on you will be completing epic adventures out that affect the Fellowship of the Ring. So we will know how things are progressing in regards to the setting the stage for the Fellowship.
Next we discussed the music feature where a player can create and play music in game. I am sure many of you have seen some of the awesome videos such as the guy playing Dust in the Wind in game. You can also jump on the YouTube and do a search for LOTRO music for even more examples. So how can a music newbie such as me play a song in game? Well enter the new music feature coming in one of the first updates after launch. Basically using a standard format known as ABC Notation and using many of the free MIDI to ABC converters on the web any musically challenged person can convert a file and save into a special directory where all you have to do is play the song in game. Now obviously there will be some restrictions such as not all of the ABC Notation features are supported. I am sure we will start seeing more on this incredible feature soon.
Next we went into a small round of Q&A where I started off with the tough question of the day about the IP Blocking issue the community was in an uproar about. Well Jeff immediately responded saying that yes Turbine was fully aware of the problem and was unable to comment on a solution. The one thing that was obvious was that he cared about what the community felt. So they were hoping to get an answer by end of day. A few days later, that solution came a few days later.
Jeff had to run off to another meeting, so we thanked him for his time and the Jeffrey Steefel had us move around a bit in the room so a few of the developers could come join us for a round of PvMP. Also it was time for lunch, so while we got our characters ready for battle we ate lunch. With stomachs full it was time to kick some butt. The room was split down the middle with two members from the press and one developer on each side. I had the pleasure of being a Blackarrow monster. Yeah, I play the hunter to a core. Decked out with cool skills and traits, we were off to storm the castle. Having done the PvMP thing from a player perspective a few times, it was tons of fun smacking them around. Of course we got smacked around just as badly. After beating on each other for awhile the developers took us over to the castle we were storming and with a little help they let us see how the area changes when the control of the castle changed. As it was currently under control by the Free People, the skies went dark, the tapestry changed from blue to red, and then slowly the powers of evil appeared in the castle. It was cool!
Well after this battle, I had to take a break from the world of Middle-earth and visit the world of Eberron and Dereth. I thanked the developers for the tour of Ettenmoors and headed over to visit the DDO and Asheron’s Call developers.
At the end of the day, I met back up with the others and we did a final walk around the building, said our goodbyes and headed off into the sunset of Boston.