So why is there so much excitement surrounding this game? Well, Lord of the Rings Online (LotRO) has been out for a short time, but regularly expands its content and continues to develop tools and content that provide players a varied game experience without waiting for expansions. This type of approach brings a viability to the world that encourages player retention as well as new subscriptions.Read on and find out why Turbine is on track for an exciting one year anniversary, and a fantastic 2008 with Lord of the Rings Online!
The Turbine booth here at the 2008 Games Development Conference (GDC) has an energetic feel and a fantastic group of excited people here to talk about their games. As is the norm, it’s packed with media and industry folks checking out the area, catching up with friends and colleagues, and networking. In this milling of folks can be found some talented and dedicated people who are determined to make Turbine a force to be reckoned with in the MMO world.
Turbine has a varied and successful MMO history that has spanned over nine years and three operating games. They’ve never defaulted on an online world either. While not a unique qualification, this point certainly does show that they’re doing the right things with their worlds across the board.
Allakhazam and I were very pleased to get a chance this morning to sit with Lord of the Rings Online Executive Producer, Jeffrey Steefel. Lord of the Rings Online will reach its first anniversary this year, and the team has no comment on what kind of celebration we can expect, but they acknowledge that it is an important milestone for the team as well as the game. They stress that Turbine is committed to the continued development of the IP and game, as evidenced by this week’s announcement that the online license agreement with Tolkien enterprises has been extended until 2014.
So why is there so much excitement surrounding this game? Well, Lord of the Rings Online (LotRO) has been out for a short time, but regularly expands its content and continues to develop tools and content that provide players a varied game experience without waiting for expansions. This type of approach brings a viability to the world that encourages player retention as well as new subscriptions.
With the unveiling of Chapter 12 in their “Book” content release system last week, the LotRO team brought in a player versus monster player (PvMP) dungeon, Delving of Frór, located in an open world, below the Ettenmoors. The entrance to this dungeon can only be accessed by whatever faction (Creeps or Freeps) controls five points of contention within the Ettenmoors zone. With ownership of the entrance comes free in and out privileges, but once ownership changes hands, your only way out is death! (Sounds like a good horror movie plot, eh?) PvE within the zone consists of many encounters including five raid bosses who each have an opportunity to drop barter items. Executive Producer Jeffrey Steefle assures us that PvE within this area also drops “phat lewtz”. Raiders rejoice! Beware however! Any time that control of all five hot points changes hands, your side of the battle will no longer be allowed entry, and you may be trapped with monsters in front and enemy combatants rushing behind you!
The main focus of Book 12 however, was customization in many forms. Barber shops found their way into the world. Here, players may change their avatar’s hairstyle and scars, basically adding a chance to re-create a character’s looks.
Another customization is the outfit system which allows you to fully customize how you are viewed by other players regardless of what you’re currently wearing. If you wore it once, and liked the appearance and have become known for such a look, selling or giving away the item does not negate your ability to be seen as wearing it. In this way guilds can enforce a dress code, or a music group can have outfits while allowing their raiders, healers, and singers to participate in experience gaining activities without those painful wardrobe changes! We have all experienced the painful swapping out of outfits for different looks and activities. It should be mentioned that these outfits are also “dye mappable”. This means that while everyone in a guild may be wearing the same outfit, you can color them appropriately to signify your own personal color code. Guild masters red, officers blue, or string players in green and lutists in magenta! You can customize and color coordinate to your hearts content!
Backpacks and quivers are also customizable now. Your character will be seen as wearing these utilities as they move about the world. Hunters across Middle Earth, rejoice!
We will have more coverage of our LotRO meeting available tomorrow!
By Andrew "Tamat" Beegle
Editorial Staff Writer