lord of the rings online

Play LOTRO for free
Official Site: Lord of the Rings Online
Studio: Standing Stone Games, formerly Turbine/WB Interactive Entertainment; published by Daybreak Game Company
Launch Date: April 24, 2007
Genre: Fantasy Themepark
Business Model: Hybrid F2P (Optional Sub, Cash Shop)
Platform: PC

Massively OP Podcast Episode 168: MMOs all higgledy-piggledy

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin go western for Wild West Online’s release date, sci-fi for EVE Online’s employment woes, fantasy for World of Warcraft’s expansion testing, and goofy for pretty much everything else.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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Jukebox Heroes: LOTRO’s Northern Mirkwood soundtrack

One of the most pleasant surprises I experienced in a while came a week or so ago when Standing Stone Games announced that it had just posted the entire 28-track score for Lord of the Rings Online’s Update 22 on its YouTube page. It was surprising because the studio isn’t in a habit of doing this, but more so because this ended up being one of the best soundtrack additions to the game in a long time.

I’m not the only one to notice this, by the way; several of my friends who play LOTRO have commented on how beautiful and engaging the Northern Mirkwood soundtrack is. Composer Bill Champagne doesn’t take us back to the old sound of classic LOTRO, but I think he does crack into the spirit of wide-open worlds full of mystery and wonders. He gives Dale its own personality, and I loved every minute of listening through it.

Today I’ve chosen six of my favorite tracks from this update to feature here, and I truly hope that SSG (and other studios, hint hint) will continue to post update soundtracks as they are released.

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The Daily Grind: Do you buy the Daybreak-owns-Standing Stone Games rumor?

Buried in the Daybreak ruckus of last week was the rumor that Daybreak is not in fact merely the publisher of Standing Stone Games’ MMOs (LOTRO and DDO) – that instead it owns SSG outright. It’s probably not the first time you’ve heard the rumor, especially once it really heated up earlier this month when SSG’s Rob Ciccolini let slip that Daybreak Austin’s Jack Emmert was his “direct boss” in an interview. I have my own reasons to believe it’s true. But as they say, it’s not about what you know – it’s about what you can prove.

Daybreak declined to comment on the question of the full extent of its stake in SSG when I inquired last week; a spokesperson told me Daybreak wouldn’t comment on rumors (which is worth a chuckle since Daybreak commenting on the Russian sanction rumors is how it got into this mess). And sure, Daybreak doesn’t have to give its customers or the media a complete family tree. But given that Daybreak’s apparently been misrepresenting its own ownership for the last 3+ years, you’d think maybe they’d come clean just this once, as this isn’t a good look – which is why MMORPG players have dug up the bit about how a Daybreak VP appears to be an SSG director.

What do you think – do you buy the rumor that Daybreak owns Standing Stone Games, in full or in part? And if so, why do you think they’ve both been presenting it as nothing more than a publisher/developer relationship since the Turbine split?

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One Shots: A well-rounded Hobbit (breakfast)

With the prodigious and well-known appetite of Hobbits, it’s a total surprise to me that the Shire hasn’t been stripped bare with these creatures’ all-consuming need for tummy fuel. Maybe that’s what the Scouring of the Shire was? It wasn’t in the movies, I wouldn’t know.

Anyway, Amorey contemplates eating 9,000 calories in one go: “Please note the very surprised look on my Hobbit’s face: ‘What about second breakfast ? Luncheon ? Afternoon tea? Dinner? Supper?’ Eleven years in LOTRO is a big milestone for a tiny Hobbit.”

Also, do they have food wars? Weight watchers? I have so many questions about the dietary lives of these people.

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EverQuesting: Columbus Nova or not, Daybreak is tying its own noose

How about those Red Sox? Seriously, that’s a conversation I’d rather be having than the one that has cropped up this week — and I don’t even follow the Red Sox. Instead, we’ve got the Columbus Nova fiasco and Daybreak’s disasterous response. I feel as if I am witnessing my favorite game studio hang itself.

As I sit here watching as this story all unfolds, I almost wonder if I’ve stumbled into some crazy movie plot or scripted prank show. Is this seriously happening? It doesn’t seem real, and yet here we are; I’m right with you, following each new step in the saga as it happens. Sadly, in this narrative there are no winners, only losers. The studio, the developers, the players, the industry — we’re all losers. No matter how this ultimately turns out, much damage has been done. The hopes that my favorite game will continue are crashing and burning alongside the last vestiges of trust I had in my favorite studio. How did it come to this? These are my thoughts and feelings as a long-time fan on the matter, basically my WTF reaction to it all.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 167: Daybreaking news

On this special edition of the podcast, Justin and Bree lay out the Daybreak fiasco, taking you through the events of the last three days, and contemplating the future for this once-great studio.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:


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Daybreak has now been hit with layoffs [Confirmed]

Daybreak has now confirmed the layoffs, and we’ve got lots more information from our own sources – see below for updates and context.

Multiple game industry veterans are discussing layoffs at Daybreak today. H1Z1 UI Software Engineer Grat Crabtree says he was among those let go.

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Leaderboard: Does the Daybreak fiasco affect whether you play its MMOs?

Over the last couple of days, we’ve been covering the Daybreak scandal – specifically, how concerns over the impact of government sanctions on Daybreak’s parent companies would affect the games, which spiraled into Daybreak publicly denying that it was ever owned by the company it said repeatedly bought it in 2015 and scrubbing its website and wikipedia of references to Columbus Nova’s acquisition. We’ve all watched on, eyes wide, dutifully recording gaslighting in progress.

But then I have that luxury: I don’t play any Daybreak games and haven’t played any of them seriously since SOE shuttered the best MMORPG ever made. So I can look at the whole situation as the dumpster fire it is, and not as the doom of my favorite MMO, since it already killed that.

Many of you are not in my position. You play DCUO, EverQuest II, PlanetSide 2, even EverQuest. You might even be playing H1Z1, although that’s less likely if you’re reading Massively OP. Or maybe the Standing Stone games Daybreak publishes, LOTRO and DDO, are your thing, and you’re not convinced by yesterday’s vague Twitch sidenote that everything’s probably fine. You are watching on in horror, wondering what will happen to your MMO homes if Daybreak implodes. You might even be pretty sure the games will be OK but aren’t so sure you want to put your own money into the mess.

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Lord of the Rings Online takes a step forward in lockbox transparency

Ever since Standing Stone Games started ramping up the prominence of Lord of the Rings Online’s lockboxes following last year’s Mordor expansion, the microtransactions have proved to be extremely controversial and divisive in the community.

And while LOTRO isn’t going to be ditching lockboxes any time soon, SSG is working on being more transparent about the system. On April 25th’s livestream, CM Jerry Snook answered a player concern about the topic.

“I have been working on a page in recent days that’s going to provide more transparency on both Hobbit presents and the seal-bound Gorgoroth lootboxes,” he said. “It’s going to talk about what you can get from these things, what’s considered rare, what’s considered common, what’s super-rare.”

Snook said that the page will come out in the next couple of weeks after it has been localized.
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Daybreak update: Chief Publishing Officer Laura Naviaux has left the company

Yesterday, Massively OP put together a piece on MMO company Daybreak Games Company and its corporate overlords, chronicling the US government’s asset freeze of Russian megacorp Renova on down the chain to its subsidiary Columbus Nova, which has for three years been the nominal owner of Daybreak since it parted ways with Sony and dropped the SOE name.

The twist? When reached for comment on the story, Daybreak informed the editors of Massively OP that our understanding of Daybreak’s ownership was in error. Stunning the MMORPG community and beyond, the company spokesperson insisted it had “no affiliation with Columbus Nova” and that former Columbus Nova rep Jason Epstein “is and has always been the primary owner and executive chairman of Daybreak Game Company” since its founding in February of 2015. When pushed for clarification, Daybreak told us that the “distinction was never corrected in the past, so [it is] correcting that now.”

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The Stream Team: Celebrating 11 years of Lord of the Rings Online

It’s been 11 years, and Massively OP’s MJ is no where near tiring of roaming Middle-earth in LOTRO. (She’s also no where near finishing everything!) Today she celebrates the 11th anniversary by diving into the event. Can she get more done than she managed last year? Gather around the party tree and tune in live at 12:00 pm to wish LOTRO the happiest of birthdays!

What: Lord of the Rings Online
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 12:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

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Daybreak says it has ‘no affiliation’ with Columbus Nova, the company it said bought it in 2015

Note: We’ve updated this piece heavily at the end with Daybreak’s statements and further links.

A chain of business connections could have a real and dire impact on Daybreak Games Company following the freezing of company assets by the U.S. government.

On April 6th, the U.S. Department of the Treasury targeted several Russian oligarchs and froze their assets due to “destabilizing activities” by these figures (including suspected interference in the 2016 U.S. election). One of the oligarchs so punished was Viktor Vekselberg, who owns the Renova Group conglomerate and its subsidiary, Columbus Nova. [Eds.: Daybreak began disputing this part as of April 27th; see updates below.]

Columbus Nova, you may recall, is the parent company of Daybreak Games. The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control has given Renova and other Russian companies until June 5th to “wind down operations, contracts, or other agreements” involving these figures.

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The Daily Grind: What was the most disappointing MMO expansion of all time?

Best and worst, top and bottom: It’s fun to discuss video game in absolute extremes (at times). And I’ll bet that a lot of us only really remember the most excellent MMORPG expansions and the most disappointing ones.

So let’s grouse today and dredge up past heartaches. What was, to you, the most disappointing MMO expansion of all time? A few come to mind for me. Star Trek Online: Delta Rising was a narrative and structural mess that bogged down and made me desert it. I know that I was really let down with how RIFT: Storm Legion developed, faltering hard after a strong start. But probably for me, Lord of the Rings Online: Mordor took the cake. The publicity for it was atrocious, the actual expansion about as far from “fun” as I’ve ever experienced in an MMO, and the difficulty of moving and progressing was aggravating.

But that’s me. How about you? Which MMO expansion do you want to rag on today?

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