Tidbits from the LOTRO anniversary stream

This past Wednesday, Frelorn and many from the staff that work on the Lord of the Rings Online took to the internets to broadcast a six-hour stream in honor of its ninth anniversary regaling fans with tales of their experiences working on the game — everything from how they first encountered the MMO to what they enjoy baking for everyone else. We also learned about dev team history like the fate of HoarseDev’s plastic horse head or his well-intentioned, well-executed, Mephistophelian monstrosity of a beard made a coworker’s from real beard hair. If you haven’t experienced it, watch the replay on Twitch (Around 4:30 for the beard). But for those of you who don’t have six hours to spend, nestled within the joviality were clues about plans regarding LOTRO’s development future.

If you’re more of a historian, you can read a transcription of the stream on the LOTRO forum. And I must empathize, as many have done before me, that everything said in this stream regarding the future of LOTRO could change before reaching the live servers.

Executive Producer

  • Executive Producer Vyvyanne says we’ll likely get previews of the raid when it gets closer to beta.
  • They’re looking to improve maps and the travel system for an upcoming update.
  • They’re building a smaller version of Minas Tirith in the sunlight that should act as a post-battle hub for players.
  • Players will take the offensive into the mountains and maybe even the Black Gate this year. “Definitely within the next year, you will see Mordor.”
  • License renewal for the game’s intellectual property will be addressed in 2017.
  • The Mac client continues to get stability improvements and bug fixes in parallel with the Windows version.
  • Things they are not working on right now:
    • a 64-bit version of the client
    • a new playable race
    • voice overs for all NPCs
    • formal expansions
    • a level cap increase
    • a new hobby
    • scaling the Rift raid
  • Frelorn and Vyvyanne explain that the EU data center move to Amsterdam was postponed indefinitely after contracts fell through which prevented the move, but they find one data center works well so they can optimize and troubleshoot without the added complexity of an overseas data center.
  • Live events are coming — some time after update 18 after they’ve addressed issues with server performance so events are not detrimental to gameplay. And sorry, they probably won’t let creeps out of the ettenmoors. The slaughter of lowbies would be too much to clean up.
  • Lifetime accounts won’t come back.
  • We could get a Northern Mirkwood region, but probably not until after Mordor if it were to happen.
  • We will check in with Frodo and Sam this year.
  • They are investigating improvements for housing, but don’t expect anything soon.
  • Bag/storage space is tricky; increasing capacity exacerbates loading when playing, can become detrimental to gameplay.

Systems designers

  • EdgeCase and Erika said that fixing loot tables in old instances is a daunting task, but they are looking at it a little at a time.
  • No new Minstrel instruments for level 105. There are too many, but they’re designing ideas for a different system
  • EdgeCase was adamant that there will never be a new crafting guild tier, but you may see new guild recipes.
  • Level 105 crafting will be in Update 19 (maybe).
  • Ransroth made the ability to multi-use reputation items, but doesn’t have the development time to do IXP runes until sometime after U18.2 at the earliest.
  • The engineering team is exploring ways to reduce skill lag in the Ettenmoors
  • Something that the devs are working on might evolve to a trait point tracker-like thingy.
  • They are also looking at giving players alternatives to earning certain trait points.
  • Update 18.1 — Guardian and Burglar getting some love
    • Burglar signals are getting more morale and agility and its secondary stat; plus a stat for avoidance penetration (something that T2 bosses already have).
    • No guardian details, but they want to make sure they aren’t “instantly kings of the hill.”
    • Warden and Rune-keeper might get some tweaking (RK damage is too high).
  • They are currently working on raid itemization. There will be legendary-rarity items (ranged or class slot) for each class and there will be an armor set for every class specialization with set bonuses (that makes 30 armor sets if I heard right), plus some “fun” raid rewards.
  • Raid locks are still under discussion but they might go with a hybrid system: no locks for tier 1; locks for tier 2.
  • Imbued LI tiers are increasing with update 18.2. You’ll need them for the new raid.
  • The imbued LI system won’t get scaled down to level 50 as they once planned.
  • Relic auto-combining is on the list of quality-of-life improvements but not currently in development.
  • Pelennor and featured instance armor barterer still planned for update 18.1
  • Finesse doesn’t go through partial blocks, parries or evades which is intended

Miscellaneous

  • Arbor teases something with slayer deeds in the next update, but her lips are sealed as to what, though it is worth mentioning that even though she is officially in quality assurance (QA), she’s been dabbling in some development like the festival token barter NPC and is enthusiastic about housing decorations, emotes and horses (to name a few).
  • MadeOfLions dramatically reads about two Moria session plays — one depicting the struggle between Gandalf and the Balrog and one featuring Gollum’s interaction with the fellowship in Khazad-dûm.
  • The new raid will have “at least 5 bosses.”
  • The new raid doesn’t take place at Minas Morgul, but that is somewhere we’ll be going.
  • If they can find the time, they might put a /scarecrow emote in for the Farmer’s Faire.
  • They will look at lowering the cost of Faramir’s armor.
  • Anniversary portraits are planned out for several years, but no new custom portraits right now. They would like to make one for each festival if they have the time.
  • New wallpaper or wall colors — one of these things will be coming.
  • Beornings should count for certain deeds in Barrow-downs Survival skirmish.
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