LOTRO producer Q&A: Legendary item revamp, closed world transfers, difficulty sliders, and more

    
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Executive Producer Rob Ciccolini joined the Friday Lord of the Rings Online livestream this week to do a seat-of-his-pants Q&A with fans who showed up to ask him everything that was on their minds. While the big plans for 2021 are yet to come with the (hopefully soon) producer’s letter, Ciccolini had a whole lot to say and confirm about the state of the game and where it’s going. Here’s a quick-and-dirty rundown of the livestream discussion:

  • There are plans for LOTRO continuing for a decade and more: “We want it to go on forever.”
  • A spotted leak of a “landscape difficulty NPC” is part of a project to let players increase the challenge level while questing, but that’s still in the works for all servers.
  • The Wildwood content update is cool because it fills out content in the mid-levels but has missions for endgame players.
  • “The more we round out the map in development, the more it feels real.”
  • Again, Gundabad expansion is confirmed for later this year with a continuation of the main storyline.
  • The Guardian class update and tank class balance changes are “ongoing.” But a lot of the attention from the class team is focused on the Brawler right now.
  • No teasing on the Brawler just yet. It’ll probably be part of the pre-order for Gundabad. “Doing a new class is a big deal!”
  • The studio would love to do more racial housing, but nothing immediate. Definitely not before the expansion.
  • There will be Update 30 in the summer before Gundabad. It will be an endgame patch that includes a smaller raid. It’ll be handled as a normal quest pack.
  • There is no release date for Wildwood yet. It’ll be a regular quest pack that’ll be free for VIPs.
  • He feels communication is “improved,” which is why he’s doing these Q&As.
  • There will be more talk about “modest changes” for PvMP coming in the producer’s letter.
  • Producer’s letter is almost ready, will be here within the month.
  • LOTRO market gifting is coming in the near future, but there is no ETA for it yet.
  • Scrolls of Empowerment controversy: The team wants players to stay at their level of content rather than going back to farm easier spots.
  • Apologized for the delay on legendary item revamp, as it’s gotten delayed twice now for different reasons. They are excited to do it, want to do it, but it’s slow in coming because of how much engineering resources it’ll take.
  • Look for the legendary item revamp “later this year” that will include UI changes. The time frame for this depends on what engineering says when they get in there. They just want one system from level 50 onward that’ll make for leveling alts better.
  • Transferring from closed game worlds will be happening in “the near future.”
  • River-hobbits are confirmed to be an upcoming race, but don’t expect to see it until 2022.
  • They are aware of attack speed and animation issues, but they have to deal with this carefully and delicately since it affects so much.
  • There are possible plans to create a level 130 Valar boost, but this is not confirmed yet.
  • No further plans to expand LUA support.
  • The anniversary event is indeed coming.
  • The team wants to put more resources into crafting, possibly after Gundabad.
  • There is more work being done to reduce server lag, especially during raids. New chat server hardware is being worked on.
  • A kinship revamp are on the list, not at the highest priority but it’s there.
  • SSG has no plans for Europe-based servers as it doesn’t have the resources to support both.
  • The studio “learned a lot of lessons” from the War of the Three Peaks “mini-expansion” debacle such as giving VIP players more value from these (“We’re not trying to squeeze them,” he said of charging VIP players) and making the more expensive bundles better.
  • The team wants to give players more ways to get good gear, including essences.
  • No new instruments are being announced, but it’s definitely something the team loves to do.
  • The team has discussed a stat squish, but it’s a “big deal” that requires an entire game rebalance. It would also invalidate every single class guide if this happens. Not saying yes, not saying no.
  • SSG’s goal is go have something fun for players to do “every 13 weeks,” something cool and interesting as 13 weeks seems to be the point when players start to fall away without further stimulation. It’s why the team wants to get out the as-of-yet-unseen Unfinished Tales quests.
  • There’s a lot of discussion about investing into the engine and graphics of the game. This comes from EG7’s excitement about improving that.
  • There are more character customization options in the works, perhaps prior to the expansion.
  • SSG knows that 4K support is heavily requested, but it requires specialists to do it right. They’re looking into the viability of doing that.
  • SSG has a number of positions open as it is expanding the team.
  • Scaling UI is something the team wants to do.
  • The team looks at the player engagement data from patches to help figure out what should be developed in the future.
  • The legendary servers should be going to level 105 in the next few months.
  • GMs are getting more tools to help players better and more quickly.
  • SSG wants to revamp its website, it knows that it is old.
  • There are plans for more of these AMAs!
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moondog548

Note on the first point: that was a response specifically to a question about the IP *license*. Sev did not say they had plans for the game for decades, he just said effectively that they don’t have any plans of ending the game/license.

His answer was the broadest possible meaningless optimism, and being the #1 bullet point in your list is actually a bit misleading.

Otherwise awesome summary, thanks as always for getting the news out!

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Andrew Schwartz

The lotro devs have always been good at lip service. I’ll believe it when I see it. And I won’t be back until they fix graphical hitching but I’m not holding my breath. The hitching ruins it for me and always has.

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moondog548

Hard disagree! The LotRO devs have NEVER been all that great at lip service. ;-}

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Simon W.

From the stream: “If your max-level char feels obligated to go back to older content, then that is not a good design.”

* Laughs in Skirmishes , Scalable Instances, Epic Battles, and Featured Instances. *

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Ardra Diva

I would be focusing on the fact that Amazon has little or no chance of publishing a game before their LOTR TV series premieres, and that a “2nd age” expansion (some kinda timewarp, throwback, etc.) of 2nd Age content and zones is something they can do well before Amazon can accomplish it. STO’s throwback expansion with TOS content was the most fun I’ve ever had playing that game. Give us a 2nd Age expansion of some kind and watch Amazon LOTR TV show fans come give it a try.

They did so little to capitalize on the Hobbit movies being released, which should have resulted in a big influx of players. Don’t make that mistake twice.

There will probably never again be another LOTR game as rich, detailed, big, and grand as LOTRO, so realize the position you’re in and capitalize on it this time.

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rk70534

It’s interesting they expect 10+ yrs of LOTRO when in the end the continuation of the license is not in their hands.

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moondog548

His statement to that effect was actually an incredibly vague response to a question about maintaining the license, with is answer being just an elaborate “Golly, that’d be swell!”

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MaynardKeenanX

Ive said this before and will keep doing it: those awful lowtexture loading screens are the sole reason I keep uninstalling.

Yeah. Its that bad.

AND ITS SUCH AN EASY FIX

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Mallus

By the number of comments in this thread it seems there are still allot of people interested in this game, it would behoove SSG to get their sh*t in order. Some things I would really like to see are the Legendary Item revamp (less of a grind) faster leveling (stat/level squish) and zone scaling.

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moondog548

With the recent sale of Daybreak to EG7 revealing that Daybreak actually owned SSG (and had deliberately kept that a secret), it seems pretty darn evident in hindsight that DB had gutted SSG to the barest of bones to maximize profit margin to make a buy-out possible.

It’s amazing they’ve been able to keep the game online AND add new content the past couple years considering they CLEARLY don’t have the resources to provide adequate sales platforms and stable servers, much less any sort of customer support service or actual improvement of the game’s systems beyond what can be adjusted in a spreadsheet outside of actual coding.

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Stormsong Minstrel

Just ugly lies, that’s it. The only thing they confirmed – that European players does not matter. Server in EU is as expensive as constructing Star destroyer, I guess…
Other things are empty promises at best. We know, we will someday…which means – never gonna happen.
Legendary items (LI) revamp: never gonna happen. $$G created perfect money-grabbing scheme that devours time and money. Scheme works, folks still pay subs, thus supporting money-grab. Why change thing that works? No, I do not believe in propaganda – “how much we really, really would like to change”, “how much excited our team is about changing this…this year or next…or this millenia”.
Communication with players – thing, that never existed. “Not working as intended”, “Working as intended”, “Will be in future” – typical answers. Let us talk about communication concerning Anfalas scrolls. Concerning slayer deeds that no longer give LP (only advanced do), about nerfing reputation items. Let’s talk about this, dear liars at $$G. Do remind me how many players asked for these. Or when did we had discussions about that. Or if you even asked players.
Of course, we would have producers letter. I could write such letters even while being drunk – your typical propaganda cliches. “Our team has worked hard, we introduced signifacnt updates that were enjoyed by you, dear players. Yes, covid stroke, yet we survived with even better community. Our future is bright, game will exist for decades and millenias, we do plan significant updates. Of course, some classes deserve more love, we know it and will do it in neariest future.” – stuff like this, thousands of empty words.
$$G proves they do not care about game. They do not tell the truth (except EU servers). They -folks rightfully say – build a game that just serves the store. $$G, you greedy liars – step back. Go, retire, produce some farmville and do leave Lotro to quality persons, who love game, care about game, play the game and can communicate with players.

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Ardra Diva

You opining that the LOTRO devs are not “quality persons, who love game, care about game, play the game” is pretty insulting. I’m pretty sure they are exactly what you just said.

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Jeremy Barnes

how about just make all of the instances/dungeons scalable? It annoys me that they give you quests in the ‘story’ that require a group and you can’t find people doing those.

Either get a normal group finder tool or make those instances scalable.

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Bruno Brito

You can try to solo altho not every class can.

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Paragon Lost

Hmm… If they revamp the Legendary Item system, fix server lag issues and work on the UI, I’d reinstall the game.