Summer is coming and it’s time for another producer’s letter, at least that seems to be part of the strategery employed by recently crowned Executive Producer Athena “Vyvyanne” Peters to combat the lack-of-communication accusations that perpetually eminate from the Lord of the Rings Online community. In the letter, she outlines the remaining major content updates for the year as well as systems upgrades to the store and server technologies. Normally I’d let you soak it in on your own, but it’s all the scattered follow-up comments from staff members that warrant a good old-fashioned news roundup. And while we’re at it, let’s interpolate how the timeline might look.
But first, we make special mention about the importance of proofreading and copyediting. Many pointed out the blatant typographical errors that stowed away into the producer’s letter such as “Minas Tirath”, “Mithral Coins” or the confusing use of term “server merge” but they pale in comparison to the misleading statement, “For the late Fall World Designer Chris Pierson is already hard at work…” A well-placed comma would dissuade non-chalant readers from stumbling down the garden path and surmising the lifeless corpse of Fall World Designer Chris Pierson is propped up in his cubicle still mashing his keyboard which is likely how the typos slipped through to press in the first place.
“Next week” (May 25-29)
Expect to see a Player’s council announcement sometime next week from Frelorn explaining that he has chosen the members of the two new councils, who they are and that they have already been unleashed to give feedback on upcoming features and content like the Osgiliath PvMP map.
And according to this post, testing on Bullroarer for Update 16.1, specifically more player music system changes, is targeted for the “middle of next week”. In addition to volume adjustments and individual note tweeks, there will be two new instruments, or rather, variations on existing instruments purchased from Bard NPCs:
Lute of Ages: This lute utilizes the tones of the lute that you were familiar with previous to U15.3
Misty Mountain Harp: This harp has a sharper bite to it
“End of June”
Turbine will be partnering with another vendor to replace their store (I’m assuming they mean the in-game Turbine Point store) in order to offer better payment features and give it a general facelift. If they were asking for my suggestions, and they should, I’d make sure that they implement a page that displays the unlocked content on an account, remove redundant offerings (purchase an expansion, but still able to buy its components), and improve the overall response time. Frelorn also goes out of his way to stress that there will be no price increases because of the store switchover.
“In the months to come”
Since the January producer’s letter, the mumak in world chat has been the server consolidation slated for some time this year. There’s a lot of ambiguity and thus, misunderstanding, about what’s going to happen and using “server merge” further obfuscates everything. Prior to this letter, there have been no mention of merges, but rather transfers from low-population servers. This requires action on the player’s part in order to keep playing their characters, but the staff assures us the transfer process will be smoother with a transfer tool directly in the game launcher. Frelorn explains the changes in further detail here and states that a comprehensive transfer FAQ will be released prior to the free transfers opening. Oh, and more character slots should allow you to cram more characters onto the remaining servers albeit for a price.
In a Twitch Q&A with Frelorn and friends, someone asked whether we’d get the new PvMP map first or episodic content to which one staff member replied slyly, “Why not have both?” So I’m assuming that both of these will come in that aforementioned “summer release” which I’ll tentatively call update 16.2. While there’s precedence of a major release without landscape content (Update 5: Armies of Isengard), I don’t expect they’ll prop this up as update 17. And even though the PvMP council is already giving feedback on the new map, I don’t expect it to arrive so soon with update 16.1. Frelorn chimed in to explain that at this point in time, they plan on keeping the Ettenmoors active and they are looking at adding new PvMP ranks for you folks spending night and day to rake in the infamy and renown perpetuating the conflict in the ‘moors and dying the Hoarwell with the scarlet blood of the fallen.
The other half of this release comprises the episodic content hinted at in the January letter and in previous Bullroarer builds and teased with the appearance of new hobbit NPCs in the Shire. The Adventures of Bingo Boffin will be a series of quests that unlock every week, like a television show. If you miss a week, Vyvyanne assures us that you can put them in your Netflix queue to binge quest when you have the time.
“By the end of September”
The Turbine offices are situated near the city of Boston which was hit with the snows of Forochel earlier this year causing a few weeks of development delays specifically with the server hardware upgrades and migrations to new data centers. They expect now that this process will be completed “by the end of September” and hopefully this will improve latency across the board.
Late fall can mean all the way up to mid-December, which is when I expect we’ll see Minas Tirith. They’ve been rather light on the details but this will probably involve a new landscape addition of the city proper and maybe an extension into North or South Gondor. Also, you can put your money on an Epic Battle cluster focusing on the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
And as if to say, “That’s not all, folks! There’s still hope your oft-requested feature is secretly under development (but likely not),” there’s an ambiguous mention of “Other features” at the end. We’ll have to keep an eye out for the next producer’s letter to see what features this is referring to.