Index to all release notes
This article contains official news describing the changes introduced in Book 14. These changes were implemented (on the US servers) with a patch on July 22, 2008. Book 14 was updated with an additional patch on August 20, 2008. For information about Book 14 Epic Quests, see Book 14 Quests.
Book 14 Developer Diary: Moving the Fellowship
Source: http://www.lotro.com. [14-Jul-2008]
Book 14 brings with it a number of great new additions and features, but for those of us heavily invested in the storyline, one of the most exciting developments is also one of the longest-awaited: the Fellowship will finally depart Rivendell on their errand of secrecy. In today's Dev Diary, I hope to shed some light on how we're accomplishing the big move, why we're handling it the way we are, and what it means for you!
First, some numbers:
- Number of the Fellowship: 9
- Number of the Fellowship inside buildings: 2
- Number of the Fellowship hanging around outside: 7
- Number of quests that involve members of the Fellowship: 51
As you can see, the Fellowship can be found throughout Rivendell and the Misty Mountains, and are involved in quite a few quests. This presents us with a number of challenges when attempting to move them as their errand begins.
Challenges Raised by Moving the Fellowship
- If the Fellowship Moves, What Happens To All Their Quests?
- How Can We Minimize Damage to Players' Immersion?
- How Can We Make the Fellowship's Departure Available to the Most People?
Taking each of these challenges into account, we arrived at a system that seems to meet each of these needs. Since members of the Fellowship will be moving to new locations as the story progresses, we developed a new rule:
Fellowship members will be on landscape when at the current location of the story, and in time-frozen interiors at each of their old locations.
This means that as we release updates that progress the story, the Fellowship will be on landscape at their "most recent" arrival, and will be located at their previous stop inside an interior that is frozen at a particular time. For their upcoming move in Book 14, this means:
- New Location on Landscape: Lothlórien (sorry, not available yet ^_^)
- Time-Frozen Interior(s): Rivendell, December 24
What is a time-frozen interior? It's an interior space where we've halted time at a particular moment in the story. For the upcoming move, we actually have two time-frozen interiors in Rivendell: some Guest Rooms on the southern slope of the Vale of Imladris, and Bilbo's Room in the House of Elrond. These interiors are frozen just before the Fellowship leaves Rivendell, as they are making their final preparations for their journey.
All of the quests that involved the Fellowship will still be available, and they have all been updated to point to their new locations inside either the Guest Rooms or Bilbo's Room.
Let's field some questions!
Q: Does this mean that once the Fellowship leaves Rivendell, we'll still be able to see them there?
A: If you go into either of the time-frozen interiors you will, but you won't accidentally bump into Boromir grumbling on the road to the Misty Mountains anymore. The Fellowship will be available in Rivendell if you need them, but if you don't seek them out you won't see them.
Q: Why not lock the doors based on quest state, like you do in Book 1 with the rooms inside the Prancing Pony? My immersion is irreplaceably broken if I know that I can still find the Fellowship in Rivendell once they've left!
A: It's a good question, but sadly it's just not feasible in this case, for a few reasons: we'd need nine separate interiors, for one: just because you've done quests for Frodo doesn't mean that you've done the quests for Sam, so we'd need to be able to block access to them separately. Keeping track of nine totally different locations isn't very player-friendly, and Scenario has more important things for his team to be building (*cough* Moria *cough*) than nine new interiors in Rivendell. Also, some of these characters are involved in many, many quests. Pippin's not too bad, but the door blocking access to Gandalf or Aragorn would need to check quest state for seven or fifteen quests! Except for a fairly small percentage of the population, most of these doors wouldn't lock anyway.
Q: What about making the Fellowship only appear on your client if you are on the right quest state to see them?
A: This isn't really the home run you think it is, unless your immersion is helped by seeing other players standing around talking to invisible people, or seeing some of the Fellowship still in Rivendell while the other half of them have set out. "You left Frodo behind!"
It's been a treat getting to move the Fellowship from Rivendell (they've certainly had time to prepare for the journey!), and when Book 14 is released, if you have a character that can accept Level 50 quests, you'll be able to participate in the momentous occasion as well! I hope you enjoy it, and that the reasoning behind handling the move in this fashion is clear.
Thanks, and fair travels!
Book 14 Instance Updates
Source: http://www.lotro.com. [09-Jul-2008]
There's nothing quite like getting together with a group of friends and challenging yourself to work your way through an instance. Feeling like you're working together with your friends and defeating a difficult foe, and being rewarded well for your efforts, are some of the best experiences you can have in an MMO. Well, this is something we've been looking to enhance in LOTRO and in Book 14 you'll be seeing some significant updates to a number of our high end instances. I'll break down a few of them to give you an idea of what is coming your way.
Angmar has 3 main instances: Urugarth, Carn Dûm and Barad Gúlaran. While they are set in some awesome spaces, they have suffered from some problems, both in balance and rewards. We've tried to address some of these issues in Book 14.
A New Armour Set
The most significant change to these instances in Book 14 is the addition of a new Angmar armour set. This set comes in the standard flavors of light, medium and heavy, and can be acquired through defeating bosses in these instances. The acquisition of these armour pieces follows a pattern similar to Annúminas, although the number of smaller barter items needed to purchase a piece is much smaller. For all you number crunchers, here are some screenshots of the new sets for you to enjoy:
- Angmar Armor - Light: http://lorimages.level3.turbine.com
- Angmar Armour - Medium: http://lorimages.level3.turbine.com
- Angmar Armour - Heavy: http://lorimages.level3.turbine.com
We've also made a few tweaks to flow and balance in the Angmar instances. We won't give all the details here, so consider these only a taste of what's to come!
The overall flow of Urugarth has not changed, but we have revised some of the fights there, such as the Gruglok arena fight and Lhugrien's battle. We have also tried to better convey what is going on with burning the various totems in the instance, so how that affects the final fight is better explained.
Of the Angmar instances, Carn Dûm has seen the most significant. One of these is the addition of a new bridge that leads into the "city" section of the space. If you have the proper keys, you will no longer have to go down into the pits to enter the city and castle of the Witch-king. In addition, we have reworked the Helchgam fight to be more fun. Helchgam will no longer heal while you try to bring a pillar down - but he will pull down pillars a lot more frequently.
We felt the Barad Gúlaran space was pretty good, especially after we removed the puzzle section of the Castellan fight. The final fight with the Rogmul still represents the hardest fight in Angmar, so why change perfection?
Over the past few updates, Annúminas has received a number of changes, and more are coming in Book 14. Some of them are pretty substantial.
We feel the instances represent the hardest 6-man content in LOTRO, but didn't feel the armour matched that difficulty. To address this, we've bumped the armour up to make it much more desirable, and again for you number crunchers, the updated armour stats can be found below. Note that the Light and Medium Armour sets have a new helm piece that you can purchase. This gives you more flexibility in what armour pieces you use to get your set bonuses.
- Annúminas Armor - Light: http://lorimages.level3.turbine.com
- Annúminas Armour - Medium: http://lorimages.level3.turbine.com
- Annúminas Armour - Heavy: http://lorimages.level3.turbine.com
We also felt the difficulty of the instances didn't match our intended progression. We had always intended that Glinghant, the Gardens, be the easiest, Valandil's Tomb next in difficulty, and Ost Elendil, the Palace, the most challenging. Instead, it felt like the Tomb was very hard, the Palace was uneven, and the Gardens were harder than they should be. We've tried to address these issues in Book 14.
The flow through the space remains the same, but we've added some additional feedback for when you have successfully used the levers to open the doors and when you have not.
The first leg of this instance has seen some significant rework. Overall we have reduced the number of monsters in the lower portion of the tomb, as we felt this took far too long to get through and wasn't very rewarding. We have also introduced new "gimmicks" into the 6 smaller sub-tombs and have worked on providing better feedback about which sub-tombs you have completed and those you still need to conquer. Finally, we have changed the Limrafn so they no longer respawn, as this seemed unnecessarily annoying.
We have done some significant reworking of the first portion of this instance, all with an eye toward better conveying the light dynamic used in this instance. The light-sensitive monsters will now play FX when they are being affected by the light, so you'll have a better idea of who is weakened and who is not. In addition, we have reworked the Guloth fight to be more of a challenge. In comparison to Shingrinder, Guloth was a pushover. Hopefully that is no longer the case!
We haven't made any significant gameplay changes to Helegrod, but we have updated how you acquire the Helegrod armour.
Instead of the various armour pieces dropping from inside the instance, the raid will now use barter items, similar to those found in the Rift. This barter item can be used to exchange for the Class armour piece of your choice from armour traders in Rivendell. Since the Helegrod armour has always been "Bind on Equip," we have not flagged these barter items to be bound to the player in anyway. This means you could possibly sell your barter item on the Auction House, if you so desire, or give it to a friend or kinmate. Due to these changes, we have pulled the Helegrod armour pieces from any other treasure sources. The only source for Helegrod armour will be Helegrod.
In addition to these changes, we've updated some of the other trophies that are found in the raid. These trophies, which were previously only used for the quests, can now be traded for consumables with a trader in Rivendell.
While certainly not as challenging as some of our other content, the various Epic instances have suffered for some time from not having any incentive to play them again. How many times have you seen someone looking for a Book 4 group? Well to provide some incentive to replay these instances, we are introducing a series of repeatable quests that direct you into those instances. Players who have never done a particular instance before will be able to group up with those who have and both will be rewarded.
These quests will reward you with a barter items, and with stacks of these items, you can purchase rewards, like consumables, crafting resources, on up to beryl shards and armour pieces from Angmar, Annúminas or Helegrod. These quests, though, are on a weekly timer, so you will only be able to get a limited number of these a week. In addition you will only be able to get one of the armour pieces once a month, so our instance content won't be completely negated by these quests.
Only a limited number of Epic instances will have these repeatable quests. When Book 14 launches, the following instances will be supported:
- Book 4 - Chapter 8
- Book 5 - Chapter 5
- Book 5 - Chapter 8
- Book 7 - Chapter 8
- Book 8 - Chapter 5
- Book 10 - Chapter 14
- Book 12 - Chapter 3
- Book 12 - Chapter 6
- Book 12 - Chapter 9
- Book 13 - Chapter 9
- Book 14 Instances
Finally, we've done a pass to give most of the instances a few deeds specific to them, like Exploration and Slayer deeds. There are also a few hidden deeds... but we'll leave those up to you to discover!
We hope you like the changes, and we'll see you in Book 14!