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

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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