I don't think it means what you think it means

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This article was originally posted by Sapience, a former Community Manager of LOTRO, on MyLOTRO, a portion of the LOTRO website which has since been deleted. However, the article was saved by the Internet Archive prior to deletion.

This is a companion article to A Brief History of Time According to Sapience.

I don’t think it means what you think it means.

Posted On: September 17th, 2010
Saved On: June 22nd, 2013
Posted By: Sapience

Any community, real or virtual, will eventually develop its own internal language that seems alien to outsiders. One of the hardest things for new members of any community is learning the correct usage of common words and phrases within that community. With any luck this handy reference will help you sort through those times when you just can’t figure out what’s being said.

Service Updates and Changes to the Game

You would think these would be pretty straight forward, but surprisingly they mean different things to different people. This should help you understand why a hotfix isn’t a patch and patches aren’t updates, but everything is maintenance.


If the messaging says we’re down for maintenance, this is usually ‘under the hood’ stuff on the hardware, OS, Database servers, etc. Just like you have to maintain your home PC by making sure your OS is patched, drivers are up to date, drives are healthy, and so on, the same is true for us.
There are different types of maintenance. We’ll usually tell you what’s impacted. Sometimes it’s just game servers, others it’s the billing and accounts systems, sometimes it’s ‘everything’. It depends on what our operations and network teams have planned.
No game changes are made during this type of maintenance.
There are three other types of “Scheduled Maintenance” that we’ll usually identify as follows:


We could go round and round for hours about the meaning of hotfix, but the only thing that matters here is how we use it when messaging downtime and changes to you, the players. For us, this is usually a change to the game (though it can also be a change to a misbehaving back end system). It can either be server side (no download) or client side (your client will update and patch), depending on what it is we’re fixing. For server side fixes you usually will not see patch or release notes.
For a client side hotfix you’ll usually get notes or some other notice of what is being addressed. Hotfixes are always small. We use hotfixes to address issues the team sees as urgent (completely closed or blocked content is usually a good hotfix candidate). The number of items addressed in a hotfix is extremely limited. Often it is a single, highly critical item. Items that do not meet our criteria for a hotfix are considered for a...


Larger than a hotfix but significantly smaller than an Update. These tend to be primarily bug fixes or minor adjustments to existing content. Items that were deemed important, but not critical will usually end up in a patch. There is a caveat to a bug being addressed in a patch: halo effect. An issue that’s important but has very large potential ramifications for other systems (meaning it could end up breaking more than it fixes) may be held until they can be included in an...


Updates generally contain new things and address issues with potentially severe halos. This includes things like a new chapter in the Epic Book, new content, class changes, system changes, etc. Not every update contains all of those things, but unlike a Patch, these are significant change or additions to the game. You’ll always see release notes and usually developer diaries and other information informing you of the changes and new features.

Accounts and Subscriptions


This is what you use to access a game. It may have one of three states, Free, Premium, or VIP. Some players may have multiple subscriptions on the same account.


Accounts contain all of your subscriptions to any and all Turbine games. You may have an account that has several subscriptions on it. For example you may have 2 LOTRO subscriptions on the same account and each subscription may be of a different type. You may have a F2P subscription and a VIP subscription on the same account.

Time & Measurements

We’re not going through all this again are we?[1]


  1. Archived Version of Original Post from the Internet Archive