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Q & A: The Lotro Dev Team opens up some more!

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Yesterday evening Sapience posted 20 questions the Dev team has answered. Sapience stated this is going to be recurring feature although no time interval has been set for this.

There are a few things I’d like to highlight for you:

Q6: How far ahead does Turbine plan content and who decides, and how, what content will or will not be included in the game?
A6: We have several layers of plans. Some go out a couple of weeks, some a few months, some a year or so and some that go out several years. The decision-making process is interdisciplinary. Producers, Designers and Artists sort out what makes sense to move on to next. Collectively we constantly course-correct all the time. – HoarseDev

I find this interesting, not only for Lotro but also for the game I am developing myself. It’s good to hear these things are done interdisciplinary. To me it doesn’t make sense when only one discipline decides on things like this, so seeing it’s different for Lotro is a good thing!

Q7: Have Turbine ever wanted to add something to the game, but were prevented from doing so either by Warner Brothers or by the terms of their license, and how restricted/free are Turbine in terms of what content they want to add to LOTRO?
A7: We police ourselves in terms of what we choose to create. We vet things internally. WB doesn’t really breath down our necks. We have a strong working relationship with Saul Zaentz (the folks that oversee the Tolkien license). They stop in a few times a year to see what we are working on and give feedback. – HoarseDev

It’s good to hear Saul Zaentz has some influence on the game, but I still do wonder if this does limit things for Turbine. I haven’t seen any signs of that, especially seen the fact Turbine has brought areas/cities in the game that were hardly mentioned in the books. So they do have a pretty kind of freedom,  I think.

Q8: Are there any foreseeable additions or updates to the Hobby system (or just Fishing) within the next year?
A8: Nothing concrete at the moment. – HoarseDev

Aww, this is too bad. I would have loved to see more things like fishing or an update to the fishing system. Things like making music as a hobby would be great and has been suggested several times that I know of, but alas, nothing is going to happen in the near future.

Q11: How far ahead do you plan expansions\new content? We know we have Helms Deep to look forward to but do you already have plans for the next expansion after that? Or do you normally wait for release of the latest expansion before planning the next?
A11: The large expansions like Rohan are something we have tentatively scheduled years in advance. For the smaller updates we have a lot more flexibility in what we choose to create. For new region content the actual planning is usually solidified several months in advance to allow the worldbuilders a solid head start on the content design team.

I already expected this. After all, how else would they have been able to announce Helm’s Deep if they hadn’t planned it and worked on it for several months or even years already? After all, such an area (like Rohan) takes a long time to develop!

Q12: About how many {quests, NPCs, words of quest text} does lotro contain?
A12: There are roughly 6400 quests, excluding tutorial skips, levelups, and test quests. (4300 if you want to drop Deeds.) This also does not include the new quests coming with Helm’s Deep. It does include Wildermore. – Berephon

Three are around 7,000 NPCs – Budgeford

Wow, 6400 quests including all the deeds! This is a lot. I like it. On the other hand, I’ve heard from other games who had loads more quests. Somehow, though, I still feel this is good. I do realize end-game players might want even more quests. I’ve heard from people who were at level cap and had nothing left to do but run an alt. I can imagine this is a delicate balance for the developers. Where do you include more quests when you want to expand at the same time.

Q13: When will the new forums be released?
A13: The current target is the end of this month. I’ve seen the rough versions and they’re faster and for those who have asked, yes they are fluid and should scale to the width of your browser instead of the current fixed width forums. – Sapience

One small update to the forums update question. I was just told the update will be delayed until after the July 4th Holiday. So look for it in early July now and not the end of June.

Okay, so after July 4th. That’s another 2 weeks at least. I do hope the forum will indeed work much better than it does now. It is, however, a great loss that the lorebook is going to be deleted as well. Although it wasn’t up-to-date anymore, it still had valuable information. It’s good that we can turn to Lotro Wiki for more information!

Q18: A common staple of players asking for Feature X is that it will be ‘easy’ to implement. Can you give us an insight into what is actually involved in making a seemingly minor change to the game?

A18: It is impossible to gauge ease of implementation without having a thorough knowledge of how things work under the hood. Things that are conceptually simple aren’t necessarily easy to implement. Of equal importance is resource management. In order to release big things we have to dedicate staff. Diverting them away, even for things that really are easy has a cost. We are constantly prioritizing things as best we can, but day-to-day we are stuck with a lot of ideas that just don’t fit right now. It is a fluid process.

Now for a practical example…

Change skill X to do behavior Y.
OK, go in and change the skill. Done!
Wait… not done!
Does it need a new animation or effects?
Does it need new audio?
Hmmm… need to translate that text on the skill?
What about the icon?
What about the quest that relied on that skill? Rewrite it? Don’t forget to translate that too!
Is there an external tag for release notes?
Oh dear… we used to mod that old skill with legacies… Make new legacies.
Update any vendors or other ui that used to sell the old legacies with the new ones.
Update the skill trainers with the new skill.
Translate those legacies.
By the way, that new skill breaks PvMP… rebalance please… possibly with new text to translate.
Oh, those legacies were on the store… new store offers… yes, you can translate those too.
Oh dear I hope that skill doesn’t have an advanced version or deeds related to it. If so, change them and translate.
And I hope you are only working in one branch of the build… otherwise, you can return to the top of this process and merge everything over. – HoarseDev

Did you ever wonder why seemingly small changes still haven’t been included? Well, this is why! There’s so much that could be involved in changing small things, it’s incredible!

Q20: What is being done about Multi-boxing/Rank Farming?
A20: We’ve been having a very active discussion with the Players Council about this recently. One of the challenges here is breaking the issue into its component parts.

And to add to this:

Multi-boxing in-and-of-itself is not inherently bad or against our TOS. The Launcher allows you to run multiple clients and the bug preventing this was recently fixed.

Rank Farming, which doesn’t require multi-boxing by the way, is another matter entirely. We’ve run several investigations to figure out how best to address it and so far haven’t been happy with the results. False positives, which could lead to potentially banning Top Tier PvMP players because they accumulate more renown/infamy than most rank farmers over the same period of time, are a major concern.

It’s a much more complicated matter than simply checking a database and banning those who rapidly accumulate infamy and renown. It’s a complex issue and we continue to discuss and investigate reasonable and appropriate ways to address it. – Sapience

We view it as a question of hammers. Is a hammer a bad thing? Nope. Can a hammer be used to do bad things? Yes. Does this mean banning hammers? No. Does this mean investigating ways to make people who do bad things with hammers wish they hadn’t? Yes.

With all the discussions about Multi-boxing going on, it’s good to have this official statement! And it’s good that Turbine is working on a solution for the Rank Farming. As you know, I’ve started Multi-boxing recently too and I’ve looked into the subject before I really started multi-boxing.

I hope the interval with which they do this new feature is small, as in weekly or every other week or something like that. That would show the devs are truly interested in what the players think. Don’t get me wrong, personally I can’t imagine they would NOT be interested, but I hear regularly players think the devs don’t know what players think. This new feature could show the opposite.

What do you think of the Q & A Sapience posted? And what would you like to see answered next time?

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About Ilse Mul

Junior Game Designer, Author, Lotro addict, Puzzle Pirates addict

9 comments on “Q & A: The Lotro Dev Team opens up some more!

  1. Great stuff, lots of behind the scenes information here. The only thing that have come closest to this would be the Twitter Dev Chats, so its nice to see the Devs are giving us more information with this 20 Q&A. I just hope it occurs frequently.

    What I found most interesting in the Q&A was regarding the hobby system. As you said, some updates or additions to Fishing would be welcomed but besides fishing, RP and music (forgetting the hobby horse because it just doesn’t cut it IMO), much of the community who enjoys these activities do not have much else to do, and are forced to quest, grind dailies etc at end game. I think I would really like to see something new in game, a hobby that does not require a money sink from the store, one that is fun enough to take my mind of questing, and finally something that offers progress to my character be it with deeds, crafting or economy. Too much? =D

    • I’d love to see something for RP! Right now I hardly do it, usually because I hardly see any people RP-ing on Nimrodel, or perhaps I don’t pay enough attention….Anyway, more RP-ing in the game with things that reward RP-ing would be great!
      Hobby horse? I don’t think I’ve heard about that one.
      I would like to see something that evolves around the character progress but not towards level cap. I hear way too often people want to reach level cap. There are so many people asking “How fast can I reach level cap and thus play end-game?”, “What is the best character to get to level cap fast and thus to end-game?”. And then when they’ve reached the levelcap and end-game they complain there’s not enough to do. And thus, something besides level cap and end game would be great!
      It would be fun to have deeds or some kind of reward for Roleplaying. Like when you’ve played music for a certain amount of hours, or when you’ve done a carnival, or participate in a tag game (found that on th forums) and more things like that.

      Granted, I’ve set myself so many goals I might never reach end-game before Lotro stops, but that’s jus tme 😀 Although the end-game is one of my goals too, but a goal in the far, far, distance 🙂

  2. […] how do you Multibox in Lotro? Turbine has officially stated Multiboxing in itself in Lotro is legal. With the last update it became a lot easier to set […]

  3. At first I thought this was the July Dev Q & A but then I realized it was June. Sorry this is a late comment but I’ll start following your blog. My only comment is that I’m not a fan of this method of engaging the community…ie, hand picking questions and preparing answers. I guess it’s better than nothing right. I’d rather see them engage in a Reddit q and a or some Twitchtv livestreaming/chat. I’m starting to not really care anymore, especially when I see how Arena Net and Trion engages their base.

    • If I’m correct, they also do Twitter Dev Chats and more, so this is not only thing 🙂
      The questions are prepared with the Player Council, so it’s not entirely random. There is a reason behind it, but a more interactive approach would be wonderful.
      But as Sapience explained elsewhere, the Devs don’t need to be on the forums or anywhere else. There’s only function which has that ingrained in the job description and that’s the Community Manager. As per Sapience words anyway 🙂

      So.. How do Arena Net and Trion engage their player base? I’m curious 🙂

      • Live, less scripted approaches via reddit or twitchtv. Also , a lot less PR speak.

        • I’ve never heard of twitchtv, but it sounds interesting 🙂 Less PR speak… I can see why that would be good! Although I have to say I think Sapience is doing quite a good job on the forums with telling us as much as he can within the boundaries of the (N)DA I’m sure he has signed.
          Could you give me a few examples (links or something like that) of their communication? I’m very curious!

    • Oh, and of course, before I forget:
      Welcome here at Lotro Adventures and thank you for following my blog!

  4. I harp on about Arena Net and Trion because they seem to be at the forefront of popular MMO companies in their approaches to engaging their communities. It’s not rocket science but I sense Turbine is stuck in a 2007 model rather than a more current version of what’s happening today.

    Here’s a few examples from Arena Net:
    http://www.reddit.com/r/Guildwars2/comments/1fexdk/the_official_wiki_what_do_you_like_and_what_dont/

    https://www.guildwars2.com/en/news/living-world-in-guild-wars-2/
    https://www.guildwars2.com/en/news/colin-johanson-on-guild-wars-2-in-the-months-ahead/

    Colin Johanson is dev team leader

    And from Trion:
    http://www.twitch.tv/trionworlds/profile (Dev/CM host a live show every Friday)

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