Producer's Letter - January 2015

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Producer's Letter

Originally posted 7 January 2015 [1]

Hello all! I’m Athena “Vyvyanne” Peters, Executive Producer of The Lord of the Rings Online.

Thank you for welcoming me. I am really excited to be exploring Tolkien’s world and all the adventures that have and will take place here!

2014 was a great year for LOTRO, and we hope you agree! Our focus for the year was expanding our story into Gondor, improving Epic Battles with Pelargir, and introducing a new class – the Beorning. Our progress in these areas sets us up for ambitious goals in 2015.

Our story continues in 2015 with both Osgiliath and Minas Tirith! Although there will be multiple updates throughout the year, these major locations will be the focus of our largest releases. Each expands the world of Middle-earth even further, and puts us in view of the Ephel Dúath and Mordor itself.

Major 2015 Initiatives:

Legendary Items: With the Osgiliath update, you will be able to Imbue Level 100 Legendary Items. An Imbued item continues to gain experience and will no longer need to be deconstructed to advance. These items are already in internal testing! There are many details still to work out, but you should expect a developer diary on the topic early this year.

New Fellowship Challenges: As we push into the heart of the War of the Ring, this is the perfect time for us to renew our focus on group content and instances. Expect new instances in Osgiliath, along with additional Roving Threats and group content on the landscape.

Quality of Life: We have been working to identify your most persistent bugs. You can expect a renewed focus on resolving issues that may be small but troublesome, to improve overall gameplay experience.

Episodic Content: We are currently in development on a new type of quest content that will roll out like an episodic TV show, a little at a time, as you follow a new friend across Middle-earth seeing familiar places in a new light.

Server Populations: Based on your feedback, we’re taking measures to get everyone onto the more populous servers, so that finding parties is easier and festivals and live events are more fun. We are working on both improved server transfer tools and upgrades to our environments to improve playability. Also we will be moving our European servers back to the EU! More details on this coming soon!

PvMP: The team is also seriously investigating a new PvMP map in Osgiliath. This landscape would tell the story of the Battle of Osgiliath, and the layout of the city (split by the Anduin) is perfect for smaller and more tightly focused conflicts than the Ettenmoors. This would make the perfect platform for gradual improvements to the PvMP experience, overall. We’ll provide additional updates on this initiative as we get deeper into 2015.

And that is just for the first half of the year! Stay tuned for more detail on all of the above and more on what will come along with Minas Tirith as we get deeper into the year. As always we look forward to your feedback and suggestions as we take this journey together.

We look forward to seeing you in Middle-earth as LOTRO enters its 8th year!

Happy New Year!

Vyvyanne

Producer's Profile

[2] Post 135

I have been with Turbine for 4 years working on Dungeons and Dragons Online for most of that time but have spent a few months transitioning to LOTRO. I have been a DDO and LOTRO player since beta :)
Prior to this I worked for a few start ups and on several MMOs working at companies like NCsoft, Realtime Worlds and Wolfpack Studios.

Online games have been my passion and career since 1999 when I fell in love with the genre.

Forum Posts Regarding Servers

Follow-up forum post

[3] Post 54

Hi all!
I am so glad to hear the mostly positive reception to the things we have outlined for the year so far. I wanted to hop on here and address a couple of points of confusion/ requests for clarity on a few items.
Vagueness: Yes, we dont give a lot of detail in the Producer's letter for the year. This is because many of these things are still in design and thus subject to change or are simply ideas that will not be fleshed out for months to come. We will be putting feedback posts and more detailed threads on the specific features as they solidify and can be focused on for feedback individually. This letter is intended as an overview.
Group Instances in Osgiliath: We are specifically referring to a cluster of instance content for 3 & 6 man fellowships that is neither a Big Battle or a Raid. We evaluate the type of content we build with each region for what is appropriate and feasible. So we might do a raid again some day, but Osgiliath is not the time to do it.
Osgiliath PvMP map: This will be a different "layer" to the map. This way players will be able to explore Osgiliath in PvE mode in Update 16 and the goal is to then also provide a PvMP version shortly thereafter (not on the same release date).
Music: We currently have our sound engineers looking into the issues with the newer version of the music system that we pulled out late last year. Our hopes is that we can have it fixed with or next update, but I am still awaiting implementation and testing of the fixes to see if they are affective. Once we have it in we will of course be placing it on Bullroarer so we can get feedback before it is released. More info once I have it.
EU Servers: This will simply be a move of the physical servers to Amsterdam. The service will still remain in the hands of Turbine, so we will all still have the same downtime, updates, etc in sync with one another. Better location and newer hardware should result in better performance all around.
Server Populations: We are still working through the details, but part of our efforts here are to make the transition as seamless as possible for Kinship leaders to keep the players together. The idea is to bring you together, not spread further apart. This effort also includes upgraded hardware and a move to a better location for internet traffic for the US servers. This is a large and complicated process which I am fully focused on. More details on this in the coming weeks as more of the timelines and tech solidify.

An additional follow-up post

[4] Post 110

Originally posted by Gedachtnis:
Will Mithril Coins, Destiny Points and other server bound things be put as account items so we don't lose them? If I were to need to move servers because mine was closing losing things like that is going to make me very unhappy and I can just imagine how it will make those that bought MC's feel.
Yes, one of the top priorities in improving the transfer system is making sure that account level purchases like Mithril coins could transfer from server to server with you.
I know that many are worries about Server transfers. It is a scary thing to have to change a much settled in environment. This is why there will be many articles., announcements, communication and requests for feedback before anything actually happens. The goal is to be able to give you the ability to move to a more populous and stable environment of your choosing (EU or NA), with your friends and kinships, and the things you have acquired over the years with as little loss, downtime or hassle as possible.

Another Follow-up post

[5] Post 113

Level Cap increases: Not in the cards for this year
Group & Solo content: Both of these styles of play are very important to the development team, so there is never an intention to only do one for the foreseeable future. In fact, just the opposite. We are constantly trying to balance the availability of play for all styles of adventure. Just because one update has group content in it, does not mean that it will not also have content that is solo-able or that the next update wont fit that bill. I personally, due to the random times I have to jump in and out of game, tend to be a solo player, so I would hate to see that option go away.
Minas Tirith: will not be an expansion. It will be another large regional update slated for the second half of the year.

And another

[6] Post 127

Itemization: We are constantly looking into ways to improve itemization. I wont jump into that heavily because it is very detail specific and is better handled by the developers working directly on it. As we get closer to the Osgiliath release you should see Dev Diaries and posts outlining the specific design ideas and asking for feedback.
Release Schedule: We are looking at 2 major region releases for the year. Osgiliath in the Spring and Minas Tirith in the Fall. Between those releases will be smaller updates with other features, fixes, etc. I do not believe in assigning or announcing dates on updates until we are nearing a completed state as that impedes the opportunity to make corrections based on feedback or testing. This is why I also dont talk in details about things you might not see for a couple months or more, because details change.
As designs solidify, individual developers will bring those to threads and/or to the testing environment to discuss details and incorporate your feedback. The idea here is that the Yearly plan is not just us sitting in a room, making a list and then telling you what you will get for the year and hoping you like it. It is about trying to find what you the community of LOTRO need to improve upon your game experience and how we can get that to you with the resources at our disposal. It is a living document which we have released merely the frame of, the details will come out as we work with you down the plan throughout the year.

Server Move information

[7] Post 4

The Server moves will be started with a listing of preferred servers, their new locations and an opening of free transfers to the servers. None of this will be limited by EU or NA. You can play on whichever server you like on the preferred server list regardless of where you might physically be located.
We are working on some tech that will make transfers smoother and more beneficial which is why this has not yet begun. More info as we get closer to that.

Follow-up on Server moves

[8] Post 47 (9 January)

I'll clarify a couple things here without going into details that are still being worked out.
There will be no forced data merge from one server to another, or to combine two servers. When/ if players move, they will make the choice themselves of which of the available worlds they want to move each of their characters and account or kinship to. Yes, we are likely to close a number of servers to play, but only after a large grace period and even after that the characters will remain available to be moved to another server to play on indefinitely. We have an idea of the servers we will wish to keep and which to close, but that list is not yet set in stone and may be subject to change as we see the results of transfers and some of the hardware investigation we are doing.
Also it appears I may have posted some incorrect info yesterday. We may not be able to allow EU <-> US transfers due to data concerns that remain from prior merges. But we are looking into it to see if any of our new tech might bridge that hurdle.
Cross server play/ chat is something we looked into but was not feasible with the age of our code and sheer amount of character data that could conflict.
I have more meetings on the transfers in the next couple of weeks to clarify some of the questions that remain. After that I should be able to start releasing more info on the plans and possibilities.

Follow up on Forced Server Merges

[9] (January 8)

I'll clarify a couple things here without going into details that are still being worked out.
There will be no forced data merge from one server to another, or to combine two servers. When/ if players move, they will make the choice themselves of which of the available worlds they want to move each of their characters and account or kinship to. Yes, we are likely to close a number of servers to play, but only after a large grace period and even after that the characters will remain available to be moved to another server to play on indefinitely. We have an idea of the servers we will wish to keep and which to close, but that list is not yet set in stone and may be subject to change as we see the results of transfers and some of the hardware investigation we are doing.
Also it appears I may have posted some incorrect info yesterday. We may not be able to allow EU <-> US transfers due to data concerns that remain from prior merges. But we are looking into it to see if any of our new tech might bridge that hurdle.
Cross server play/ chat is something we looked into but was not feasible with the age of our code and sheer amount of character data that could conflict.
I have more meetings on the transfers in the next couple of weeks to clarify some of the questions that remain. After that I should be able to start releasing more info on the plans and possibilities.

References

  1. https://www.lotro.com/en/game/articles/2015-producers-letter
  2. https://www.lotro.com/forums/showthread.php?562265-Official-2015-Producer-s-Letter/page6
  3. : https://www.lotro.com/forums/showthread.php?562265-Official-2015-Producer-s-Letter/page3
  4. https://www.lotro.com/forums/showthread.php?562265-Official-2015-Producer-s-Letter/page5
  5. : https://www.lotro.com/forums/showthread.php?562265-Official-2015-Producer-s-Letter/page5
  6. https://www.lotro.com/forums/showthread.php?562265-Official-2015-Producer-s-Letter/page6
  7. https://www.lotro.com/forums/showthread.php?&postid=7296326#post7296326
  8. https://www.lotro.com/forums/showthread.php?&postid=7297210#post7297210
  9. https://www.lotro.com/forums/showthread.php?562355-Producer-s-Letter-Forced-server-merges&p=7297210#post7297210