Episodic Content Developer Diary
- Posted Mon, 07/20/2015 - 09:07 in Developer Diaries
- By Jeff ‘MadeOfLions’ Libby
- The release of a major update is incredibly exciting for us (a.nd I hope for you as well!), but over the past few years we found ourselves wondering if there were ways to maintain that excitement level even between updates.
- One of LOTRO's defining features (and indeed a defining feature of all the MMOs we have developed) has been the steady release of updates and patches that expand the game in every direction. There have been more than thirty major updates to LOTRO over its history, adding new regions, new dungeons, new quests, and new stories to the world of Middle-earth. The release of a new update sees us excitedly checking the chat in-game and reading the forums to see what players think of the new content and to get ideas for the next update. And then we put our heads down and get to work on everything to include in the next one.
- The release of a major update is incredibly exciting for us (and I hope for you as well!), but over the past few years we found ourselves wondering if there were ways to maintain that excitement level even between updates.
- LOTRO has an incredible amount of content available by now, but since the game has been around for so long there has been enough time for our most loyal and long-standing players to have seen all or most of it, sometimes on multiple characters. When you have been living in Middle-earth for that long (either as a developer or as a player!) something new and unexpected really stands out. So how can we surprise players with something new?
That Between-Updates Feeling
- One of the ways we tried to add new content in-between updates was by creating seasonal festival content. This gave us a number of events to activate during the periods between major updates, and the seasonal themes provided some fun avenues for rewards. These have a lot of flavor (the Harvest Festival's Haunted Burrow is my favorite), but again, some of these festivals have been around for years and years.
- PvMP is one area where the excitement level remains high between updates, by virtue of its dynamic nature. The Ettenmoors aren't always overflowing, but this is an area where much of the fun is player-created. The battles can be different every night, which has always contributed to the longevity of that Freeps and Creeps battleground.
- But what if you aren't into PvMP and you have already experienced each of the seasonal festivals time and time again? What can we do to provide something new and interesting in-between major updates? One possible answer was hiding in plain sight: every Monday morning, groups of developers would gather in the Content Pit to talk about the previous evening's TV. We would discuss the latest developments on Game of Thrones, True Detective, and on Thursday mornings, one of my favorites: Survivor. (Don't judge me! It's a great show!) What if we could recapture some of the essence of these lively post-event conversations?
- Like a TV show, it would require something new to happen every week, rather than on our current schedule of three or four times a year. This isn't really how we've operated. Can we even make this happen? As we investigated the feasibility of attempting such an event, the tale, as they say, grew in the telling...
The Ballad of Bingo Boffin
- And so was born 'The Ballad of Bingo Boffin,' a very long story involving the various adventures that befall a mostly-ordinary hobbit of the Shire. Unlike the Epic Story, which is told in large chunks that appear every three or four months, Bingo's story will unfold more gradually: a new quest in his story will appear every single Wednesday... for a year. If you decide to befriend Bingo Boffin and help him with his adventure, you'll have fifty-two weeks of new questing ahead of you.
- In order to make Bingo's adventure accessible to everyone, there are a few important points to note:
- 'The Ballad of Bingo Boffin' is intended to be a soloable experience, there won't be any sessionplays, and I'll try to keep the forced-solo sections to a minimum.
- Bingo's first quest is level 8, and begins outside his hobbit-hole in Michel Delving. At the end of each week's quest, the recommended level of next week's quest will be displayed (along with its name; it’s a preview of sorts), so if you'd like you can level up in the interim. I plan on making a new character to follow along with Bingo at the appropriate level, but I'll also bring my higher-level guys through to crush it. I think both approaches are fine!
- If you miss a week of Bingo, don't worry! Once his quest for a particular week becomes available, it'll be available for anyone who has progressed the quest chain to that point. So if you play through Bingo's first three weeks of quests, after the fourth week you'll be able to pick up his fourth quest whenever you want. One year after Bingo's adventure begins, you could theoretically play through all fifty-two weeks of the chain all at once. That's like choosing to binge-watch an entire series on Netflix, and if you want to you can... but I hope you'll play along instead of sitting out for the year.
- We've been hard at work on Bingo's adventure behind-the-scenes for awhile now, and some eagle-eyed observers have already seen some evidence of it. We won't need to bring the servers down in order to advance Bingo from week to week. Much of the magic for making this happen is already there, waiting for the appropriate moment to set the adventure in motion!
- Did I mention that 'The Ballad of Bingo Boffin' is free?
- I hope you enjoy meeting Bingo and helping him out on his long, strange adventure, and that the experience is a fun one. I hope that you find it a rewarding storyline, but also that you enjoy the many rewards your characters can obtain. And that's where Bert Bartleby comes in.
Bert Bartleby, Bingo Badge Barterer
- By completing Bingo's quests, you'll receive a new barter token: Bingo Badges. You can exchange these with a curious individual named Bert Bartleby, who has wandered the wild lands of Middle-earth and accumulated a vast array of interesting and useful curios. You'll find Bert in an increasing number of places as Bingo's adventure progresses, and at each new location he will have a new selection of rewards to exchange for your Bingo Badges.
- Bert provides another useful service. If you lose track of where to find Bingo on any given week, you can talk to Bert at any of his locations to learn where to find the adventurous hobbit that week.
- New rewards will be available whenever Bert moves to a new location. You'll be able to find him in his old locations forever (so you don't need to worry about losing access to the rewards he's got in the Shire, for example), but whenever he moves to a new place he'll have a new set of rewards.
- We've never tried to make episodic content on such a rapid release schedule before, so this is exciting for us on many levels. But I think Bingo Boffin has an interesting tale to tell, and I hope you enjoy experiencing it for yourself alongside Bingo over the course of the next year!
Bingo Boffin and a Year of Adventures (by MoL)
Bingo Boffin and a Year of Adventures
One year ago, a hobbit named Bingo Boffin developed a taste for adventure and did what very few of his neighbours would ever contemplate: he decided to set forth from the Shire and expand his horizons to the wider lands of Middle-earth. It was a scary prospect for a Boffin – all have heard that the adventuring spirit sometimes rises in the hearts of Tooks (and sometimes in those of Bagginses, Brandybucks and Gamgees, engaged in quests of the Utmost Importance), but Bingo did not let that deter him from his travels.
Bingo wasn’t the only one made nervous by this adventure, though. I shared in his worries, because the development of ‘The Ballad of Bingo Boffin’ was a very unusual thing, a departure from the norm for not just story-telling in LOTRO but also for the methods by which we develop content. I’ve made long quest chains before (some of the Books in the Epic Story run to thirty chapters), but most of those are made completely in advance and release alongside a major update to the game. In the case of Bingo’s adventure, I would not have the luxury of updating the game data every time I needed the next quest to become available – we pride ourselves on reasonably frequent updates, but it would not be easy to convince Ops that pushing an update to the game every week for fifty-two weeks counts as ‘reasonable.’ Therefore, the next quest would need to be finished and ready to unlock on a schedule.
That’s on a technical level. On a story-telling level there’s another challenge: when players need to wait a week to get the next chapter of the story, how do we ensure that each quest is satisfying on its own, and makes players want to tune in next week to get more of the story? Whether or not we succeeded at this every week is up for debate, but my metric for this involved asking this question: ‘Do players get Something Interesting out of this particular quest?’ The Something Interesting varied from week-to-week: sometimes it might have been a moment of character development, sometimes it was an unusual form of gameplay, sometimes it was something as small as a joke that made me laugh - but hopefully most of the time there was more to it than just that! There was a more tangible secret weapon as well: Bert Bartleby and the promise of more rewards also kept players tuning in.
But primarily I had a story I wanted to tell, and I wanted to tell it in LOTRO. I wanted to prove that despite being around for so long, LOTRO can still be on the frontier, breaking new MMO ground and doing new, exciting things. It would be easy to rest on our laurels and reflect on the long road we travelled to get here, but I’m more interested in seeing what lies ahead on that road, just like Bingo Boffin when his adventure began.
The Original Idea
Theodore Gorse would take credit for the whole thing, and for once he might not be (entirely) wrong! Years and years ago, I wrote a treatment for a second Hobby to accompany Fishing. It would be called the ‘Treasure Hunting’ Hobby, and it would be primarily Content-driven: in every Region there would be four or five hidden treasures, and each one would require you to hunt for clues and solve riddles in order to find them. I was tremendously excited about the idea, and that excitement was only slightly dampened when everyone I showed the treatment to (including my wife, who worked in QA for LOTRO at the time) called it an unsuitable Hobby and not worth the effort of implementing it.
Sometimes these things happen. So my Treasure Hunting Hobby went to the great Vault of Lost Ideas, but the idea for one of the characters remained in the back of my mind: the inimitable Theodore Gorse refused to be forgotten. Also refusing to be lost entirely: the idea of a quest arc progressing through multiple regions, with four or five individual quests per region advancing a story-line.
That concept eventually merged itself with another idea of mine, of a long-running quest arc that might run alongside the Epic Story and over a long level-range, but one piece remained: how might we distinguish such a quest chain from the actual Epic Story? The answer was ‘tone’ – given how serious the Epic Story tends to get, a more light-hearted approach could make the new quest chain feel very different, more The Hobbit than The Lord of the Rings. It would be a ‘Hobbit Epic,’ of a sort, and follow an unusual hobbit on an adventure far beyond the Shire. Even better, perhaps Bilbo Baggins himself could have a role in getting the adventure started…
After that light-bulb, pieces of a storyline began to fall into place. Theodore would take his rightful place as a supporting character, and I began to develop the characters of Bingo and his extended family. Before long, I had a two-page pitch document, an eight-page summary of the quest chain, and was fifty pages into a detailed spec.
In the beginning, I pitched ‘The Ballad of Bingo Boffin’ as an extension of the Epic Story. The idea was that in addition to designing the Epic for each update, I would also work on various portions of the Bingo story. This way, I could spread the implementation of the Bingo quests over a long period of time, and also use the Epic Story VO recording sessions for Bingo as well. What’s another couple thousand VO lines? ;)
I had broken up the whole quest chain into segments, and began implementing Segment One of Bingo’s adventure (Weeks 1-17) just as Volume IV was beginning in Western Gondor. Later Segments would be slipped into the Updates containing Central Gondor, Eastern Gondor, and Old Anórien. His story would not be completely implemented until the release of Update 18 and the Battle of Pelennor Fields.
Because so many updates would go to the Live servers before we were ready to flip the switch and begin the Ballad, it was necessary that I use phasing and some other techniques to keep the work I was doing a secret. I messed this up almost immediately! For one, even though I had Bingo phased properly, it hadn’t occurred to me that *every* NPC would need this phasing, but it should have -- after all, you guys are intimately familiar with the existing state of Middle-earth, and even slight changes jump out to you as if they were painted in bright neon. Donnamira Took in the library of Great Smials began the conversation, but Bingo’s neighbors (one of them helpfully labeled ‘Bingo’s Other Neighbour’) also got involved in tipping our hand too early. Even Bert Bartleby got involved, showing up on the radar map for his locations in the Shire, Bree-land, and the Lone-lands before being sharply reprimanded.
I was having a blast putting together this quest chain and giving the team weekly updates about Bingo’s progress at our morning meetings (‘He just met Bilbo, you guys! And then there was a big misunderstanding and he got his feelings hurt!’), but there was still a question whether this was going to be a successful experiment. I was playing through it as I made it, and Arbor was testing it to make certain the pieces all worked together, and our Art Director played through it to make a list of areas and characters which could use new art… but you never really know with a quest until it’s being Played For Real.
Finally, with two Segments fully implemented (Bringing Bingo into Moria and just out the other side) and a third part of the way in development, it was time for players to play it for real. It was July 23, 2015, and it was time to flip the switch.
I bought a physical Lord of the Rings calendar and wrote the first quest in the box for July 23 when the day arrived, and then proceeded to fill out the rest of the calendar with quest names for each week. They seemed so far away at the time!
I brought characters on many of the servers to Bingo’s house and waited for 10 AM to arrive. When it did, and Bingo appeared outside Boffin Manor, I felt an enormous wave of relief. I ran through the quest and watched as Bingo spent the day surrounded by veritable throngs of people. On the whole, it was a tremendously satisfying experience, and most players seemed to like their first taste of the adventure. As the weeks proceeded the throngs dissipated somewhat, but there was still a great deal of feedback coming in.
This was a mostly new experience for me; usually I’m getting feedback on a quest chain after it has already been completed, but with Bingo I could sometimes course-correct in a fashion. I was still far enough ahead that any responses might be many months away, but it felt a little like designing with a safety net, and in some cases I knew that certain criticisms would be answered later in the chain.
That last one probably merits a little more discussion. I’m no stranger to writing stories full of tragedy and loss, and if I were trying to shock people with the Ballad I can think of a few different avenues by which I could have managed it (maybe Bingo falls prey to one of the Nazgûl after all, and Marigold takes up his mantle and continues his adventure in memory of the fallen hobbit, vowing to finish the quest he could not) – but that ultimately didn’t feel right for the tone of Bingo’s adventure. I do think Bingo deals with some pretty serious topics over the course of his adventure as-is. For my money, ‘Through the Blockade’ shows that he’s come to an understanding about the value of life that doesn’t come up in MMOs very often, but he was always going to survive this adventure. If Hollywood can be kept from killing one of the ‘too many’ hobbits in Fellowship of the Ring, I think Bingo can safely navigate this adventure!
I find that a lot of Bingo’s charm comes from being put in dangerous situations to which he seems oblivious, and relying on the player to get him out of it, but early feedback did indicate something that I hadn’t entirely expected: many players were actively irritated by Bingo’s inability to do very much by himself. I leaned a little heavily on the ‘Bingo forgot something!’ trope during ‘Leaving Is Not Easy’ in Week 5, and sometimes the novelty of phasing in a reading NPC while a timer ticks down got the better of me, but I did try to ease up on some of Bingo’s more annoying traits as we went along. Either I succeeded or I just got used to the little guy, because by the end of the Ballad I was sad to see him go, and it sounds as if I’m not alone in that! :)
There were a few aspects of The Ballad of Bingo Boffin that were particularly challenging from a design standpoint. The first involved the path I needed our little hobbit to take on his journey. I knew from the beginning that I wanted him to leave the Shire and move fairly in line with the increasing level ranges of the Eriador content until he arrived in the Misty Mountains, at which point he would fall into Moria and after being found again, he would end up in Lothlórien for a short detour into Mirkwood.
If we were following the natural level ranges of the existing content in LOTRO, he would then need to bop all the way back across the mountains to Enedwaith, completing two regions’-worth of levels before jumping *back* across the mountains to Great River, as you do if you’re following the Volume III Epic. It works for Volume III because it had to, but I never particularly liked the need for approaching Isengard from the west instead of the east. For Bingo, I wanted him to remain on the Rhovanion side, which meant that there was a ten level jump between Bingo’s adventures in Level 65 Mirkwood and his Level 75 sojourn into Great River.
As a result, I played a little fast and loose with the suggested levels for ‘First, Breakfast!’, ‘Second Breakfast,’ and the Great River quests. I think it was to the benefit of Bingo’s journey, but I do know that it became difficult for players playing on-level to keep up with the speed at which Bingo moves through the level ranges as he progresses through Great River and into Rohan.
Early on, you guys asked for the maximum level that Bingo would reach during his travels, but I resisted telling you that information. It’s true that it might have prevented the frustration with the rapidly-increasing levels in Great River and Rohan, but on the other hand I wanted to preserve as much of the element of surprise as I could. Telling you the maximum level that Bingo would reach (Level 93, as it turns out), actually reveals a great deal about his journey – it tells you where he’s not going, for instance, and would allow LOTRO sleuths all the info they would need to determine the general shape of his adventure; I didn’t want that to happen a year in advance!
This brushes up against another challenge with designing content that lives in the game data but doesn’t go live for months – those LOTRO sleuths I mentioned have the tools to poke around and learn a great deal about what we’ve put into the game, even when I’d rather it remained secret, such as information about the rewards Bert would have in the future and what quest items Bingo would interact with on his quest. For the most part, these sleuths were pretty respectful and I appreciate that they generally made this information available for people that wanted to see it, and didn’t throw it in front of people who didn’t. There were some exceptions, and we didn’t take kindly to people trying to spoil Bingo’s future endeavors on World chat.
But it did make me paranoid, and eventually I started taking extreme steps to try and keep some of Bingo’s surprises a secret. For players who completed Volume III, it’s possible to encounter Mercy when Bingo makes it to West Rohan, but I was so worried that LOTRO sleuths would learn that in advance that I gave her the name ‘Woman’ in the data files and jumped through a few hoops to hide her real name in a hidden location. I became less and less descriptive with item text as the Ballad progressed, because I didn’t want players to reverse-engineer the quest activity from the item descriptions. This is the reason that the party invitations in Week 51 are called ‘Hand-written Notes’ instead of ‘Party Invitations’ and their description is ‘These notes were painstakingly written by hand.’ Under other circumstances, I would never have allowed that description to slide, but in the interest of keeping some mystery I felt it was worth it.
But no discussion of implementation challenges would be complete without talking about Draigoch, and he’s going to get his very own section.
Weekend at Draigoch’s
Originally, Bingo’s encounter with Draigoch was going to be very different, and solely in service of a joke. I planned to have him go up to the entrance of the lair in Thrór's Coomb, a grodbog would scurry out, Bingo would say something about bugs, and that would be that. But the more I thought about it, the more I decided that Bingo needed to actually get up close and personal with everybody’s favorite lip-synching dragon.
That proved a significant decision, because as often happens with writing, it is very easy to say ‘Bingo needs to encounter that dragon!’ and rather more difficult to come up with a believable way to make it happen. Theodore Gorse to the rescue, because of *course* he would enter the gold-filled lair of Draigoch the Red! But isn’t it more interesting if he goes into the Lair not in search of treasure but for some other reason? Suddenly, story decisions and plot points made earlier on come back and fall naturally into place, and now I can’t imagine the story unfolding in any other way.
But there is a rather large, dragon-shaped problem in the way. Draigoch’s Lair is a notoriously-complicated dungeon under-the-hood, and building an instance for Bingo on top of the Draigoch raid seemed… ill-advised. So I did what any enterprising content designer would do when confronted with such a problem: I put it off. In fact, I put it off so long that most of the Ballad was implemented before I got around to designing the instance in Draigoch’s Lair. I finally resolved to come in on a weekend and dedicate the whole weekend to producing this crucial instance in Bingo’s journey.
Feeling very smart, the first thing I did was copy the entire dungeon into a new location so I could mess around with it without interfering with the existing version of the raid. I then spent the better part of the weekend building the new instance for Bingo, and had a really great time getting Bingo and his friends into all sorts of trouble. After it was all basically done and I was full to the brim of over-confidence, I decided to start deleting some of the raid-specific elements in my copy of the dungeon in order to improve performance and make working in that space more elegant.
Disaster struck. I deleted something (or some things) that I shouldn’t have, and my Bingo instance stopped functioning. Draigoch refused to sleep any longer; now the dragon T-posed in ridiculous fashion. Bingo’s logic no longer bounced where it should have, and nothing in the instance worked as it had mere hours before. It was 4:30 or so on Sunday, and instead of getting ready to leave I had single-handedly wiped out most of the work I had done all weekend on that silly instance. It was the closest designing content for LOTRO has ever gotten me to tears.
But I persevered, because I wasn’t going to let this stupid accident win. I spent the next several hours retracing my steps and trying to restore what I had broken, and at the end of it I had everything working enough that at least Bingo’s instance worked properly again. Thank goodness I had copied that dungeon to a new location at the outset!
Now I can laugh about it, and I think ‘Treasure Lost, Treasure Found’ is one of the highlights of Bingo’s adventure, but it also seems to me that sometimes maybe art does imitate life. Theodore was right: the Rothstone must be cursed!
The Drawing Board
The overall shape of Bingo’s adventure was in place from the very beginning – loneliness would compel him to adventure across Middle-earth, making new friends, and upon returning to the Shire he would host his dinner-party after all and invite all the folk he encountered on the way. But the details changed and evolved from conception to implementation, such as the Draigoch encounter described above. Here are some of the other ideas that ended up left on the drawing board:
+ Bingo sometimes stops at a location to spend some time writing in his book, and the idea was that there would be a forum tie-in contest where players could write passages describing the adventure to that point. This idea ended up being too ephemeral to organize in any real fashion.
+ The daring plan to rescue Bingo from the Dourhands was originally going to be a stealth-focused instance, but it was scaled back and changed to be on landscape instead. That took away much of the daring from the daring plan, but since it would have immediately followed the instance in ‘A Dangerous Detour’ it’s probably better this way. Now only two weeks in the Ballad have back-to-back instances.
+ The two Breakfast quests changed a great deal over the course of implementation (which I know will be unwelcome news to all the many, many fans of ‘Second Breakfast’ out there!). Originally Bingo was going to cook a hearty breakfast to justify the big level increase in Mirkwood, and when it wasn’t enough he would cook another one. Responding to feedback wanting more ‘thinking quests,’ I changed ‘Second Breakfast’ to incorporate the scavenger hunt for Willem Whisker… and we all know how that turned out. ;)
+ As originally written, Bingo was going to become a hero to the children of Cliving, and you would help him act out some of his adventures to that point for their entertainment. It felt a little redundant (and also somewhat derivative of a couple LOTRO quests), so instead this section was replaced with seeking the Blood-eye Cultists, a loose plot-thread from the Epic that had been looking for a home.
+ Similarly, instead of going up to Wildermore, Bingo was going to go south to Snowbourn and indulge in too much drinking (as presaged by his encounter with Milo Goodbody in the Prancing Pony). You would need to help him procure the hangover cure that you got for Gléowine during Volume III… but when it came time to implement it felt less like a reference and more like a straight-up copy, so I excised Snowbourn from the journey entirely.
+ I struggled pretty substantially with the Gap of Rohan. In-game, if Bingo were to travel from east to west, he would pass through two versions of Isengard: one flooded, and one not. Originally I was going to hand-wave this away with a Deju Vu gag, but it never felt great. So instead Bingo teleports a very long way from Grimslade to the Dunbog, in the process missing out on an encounter with the Ranger Amarion and an evil Warg-counterpart for Willem Whisker.
+ This one is a little weird, and while I think it could be textually-supported, the more I thought about it the more unsure I became about including it; I basically chickened out. But here it is! In the forest of the Mournshaws, nearing the final leg of the journey, Bingo would encounter a familiar face from early in his adventure: Tom Bombadil, skipping merrily about the woods! It was supposed to add to his mysteriousness and to the feeling of otherworldliness that permeates the Mournshaws and most of the forests in Middle-earth… but I blinked and backed away from that encounter. I then thought about letting Bingo encounter the Huntsman in his place, but that idea didn’t turn into anything substantial.
Easter Eggs, Bugs… and the Future?
For the most part, the Ballad of Bingo Boffin went pretty smoothly, but there are still a few issues I’d like to clean up. Some of the phasing with Willem Whisker in Rivendell doesn’t turn off properly, so it looks like he just spends all his time sleeping in the Hall of Fire – which is very rude after Bingo gets all emotional in the Dunbog! Also, many of the later pet rewards from Bert have the wrong icon and are pretending to be horses. I’ll be keeping an eye on bug reports too, so I can fix anything else that pops up.
There are a few details that you might have missed over the course of the Ballad. Here are a few:
+ Characters involved in the Ballad often have unique VO for their blue-ring quest comments. Sometimes these are amusing!
+ If you have completed Volume III, you can encounter Mercy at a few different points.
+ The guests in Week 52 can vary somewhat.
+ There is more to Bert than it seems at first.
+ Adolinda is the ‘oldest’ human female that Bingo encounters, and therefore she has the original ‘default’ human female appearance in LOTRO.
+ The page-collecting in ‘Bingo’s Scattered Thoughts’ is a reference to the proud MMO (and LOTRO) trope of collecting pages from monsters and the landscape.
+ Bingo’s dialogue in Langhold can vary dramatically if the town has been destroyed.
+ Hand-delivering the invitations in Week 51 does not make a difference in the outcome, but I did add the option to skip the deliveries as a result of player feedback to some of the big travel times earlier in the Ballad. Bingo asks if you hand-delivered them just so I can make you feel badly about it. ;)
+ W.W. will respond to a number of different emotes when you say goodbye to him in the Dunbog.
+ Once the Ballad is over, Bingo has at least one unique line of dialogue for each Week of his journey.
As for the future, I think there’s a place for Episodic Content in LOTRO, and I enjoyed making and playing the Ballad of Bingo Boffin so much that I would love to do another one. But the caveat I’ve been saying all along is that I would need the right story for it, and I wouldn’t want to just do a retread of Bingo’s adventure with someone else, in different places. It would need to be very different.
But with that all said, I wouldn’t be surprised if we were to see some of the characters introduced in the Ballad again. There are a lot of adventures out there to be had!
Thanks All Around
Like Bingo, I’ve let my words get away from me, so I’m going to wrap this up. I have some people to thank!
+ Arbor for testing the Ballad and ensuring that everything worked as it should every Wednesday; it didn’t stop me from worrying about it at 9:59 AM every Wednesday, but she really took a huge task and made sure we ironed the bugs out.
+ World Master Pierson for making two versions of Boffin Manor: a perfect place for a hobbit to live and in which to throw a dinner party; also for sprucing up some of the older regions Bingo’s journey took him through.
+Art Director Todd and Artists Evan and Mark for so many unique cosmetics, maps, NPCs, and in general all the art love necessary to make such a big adventure as this look as good as it can; thanks also to Todd for taking the time to play through the first passes of some Bingo quests and providing some much needed feedback early on in the process
+ Edgecase for making the rewards and providing lots of systems advice and Bingo Badge costing guidance; also for being an enthusiastic supporter of Bingo!
+ Ransroth for providing some early Engineering support to ensure the ‘Ask Bert Bartleby where Bingo is’ feature works properly; also for playing Bingo every week and giving me his honest feedback about it. Sorry again for the timers and some of the riddles!
+ Tybur for providing some necessary support for getting Bingo to advance every Wednesday at 10 AM, and for her calming words whenever I would get nervous that it wasn’t going to work
+ My wife Istien, for telling me so many years ago that the Treasure Hunting Hobby was a waste of time. After all, the Ballad of Bingo Boffin probably wouldn’t have happened if I had used up those ideas already!
+ And finally, you guys: every single player of LOTRO, whether you played all of the Ballad or none of it. We do all this for you. Thanks so much for everything you do!
- Source: 
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