Q1: Are there ever going to be plans to do single server dev fun nights, for instance like the end of beta's where you guys release Balrogs in bree or Thorog in Rivendell? How about Sauraman in the Shire?
A1: We’ve recently (just yesterday) discussed the possibility of creating some live events with developer participation. We’re continuing to investigate what it would take to make this happen, but for now we’re focusing on the expansion pack.- Derek
Q2: Are there any plans to change the RNG? I know a lot of people are beyond frustrated at it, as it doesn’t seem as random for some as it does for others.
A2: We have no plans to update the random number generator (RNG). It’s normal for individuals to receive runs of luck (good or bad) in the short term. The random element of the game, may appear to be broken, but the RNG is running for the entire server instance, not for one player at a time. - Nathan
Q3: When Sapience brings candy for his candy jar, how many people steal it?
A3: Honestly I think the community is better acquainted with my candy jar than the devs are. Those who sit closest to me usually get things thrown at them (usually York peppermint patties if you care) more than they have to raid it. Still.. it does seem to empty more quickly than it should. - Sapience
Q4: Do the developers find the player council helpful or just another annoyance?
A4: The council has been very helpful. It gives us the opportunity to have very focused conversations. The threads don’t go on in to 40+ pages and the topics are very pertinent to current development. So far it has been a great and responsive sounding board. - Zimmitti
Q5: Can you describe the process by which you digitize horses and animate the models? Do you use a real horse as a model? What kind of software does it take to complete the process? When you add new movements (rear, kick) how do you go about getting that captured in the game?
A5: After some discussion about direction and reference gathering, our horses were initially sculpted by a production artist using zbrush, a high resolution sculpting program. They were then re-topologized in Maya which is the process of building a lower res game model on top of the high res sculpt. From there they were brought into photoshop for the texturing or colorizing of the model.
Once the horse reached that state a tech artist “rigged” the character using joints (think of bones) in Maya. The rigged model was passed to the animation team who manually moved joints in Maya to create the poses that make up the horses animations. Of course, before animating they collected a lot of reference to help understand how horses move. When the animations were completed, the joint data was exported to our proprietary game engine where animators, tech artists and content designers worked together to script up the new movement so it works in the game system.
Q6: How do you get the "horse and rider" to sync (or not)? Why do some horses sync better than others?
A6: The horse and rider animate independently. The horse gets directions from the rider of course, but it’s still possible for the animations to get out of sync. The player characters use their own set of animations too, so it may be possible that one race may sync better than another. - Elliot
Q7: It has been said before that adding a new Freep class isn't on the cards, but why is that so? Is there simply no feasible placement for a new class given the roles of current classes or is it more a case of prioritizing time, resources, etc?
A7: Creating a class from scratch is a big endeavor. Our current class revamps should, in theory, have several beneficial byproducts. First, we are cleaning them up, top-to-bottom. They will be more rewarding and builds will be more defined. They will also be easier for us to maintain. While I can’t say that a new class is in the works (there isn’t) the revamp will make it a lot easier to consider one in the future. - Zimmitti
Q8: What is the future looking like for pvp? Is it basically a done deal for Turbine with no future? Is it considered a burden that they just want removed from the game? Or is it something they would like to revive and try to make better? Are the couple PVP only council members basically wasting their time with trying to work on pvp stuff?
A8: We don't have any serious big features planned for PvMP in the near term. We've got time booked to rebalance things to accommodate the Freep class changes and we've got a few ideas that might be interesting... or really may not happen.
The systems changes we are putting big effort into right now on the freep side are focused and challenging. If I were to shake up PvP while trying to get everything else balanced, I assure you everything would suffer. – HoarseDev.
Q9: What about small PvMP features? fixes? little mechanic changes? Did you know that the bridge from TR rez to the outpost has 2 bridges rendered?
A9: In the short term, we're going to be focused on the effects of the class changes to PvMP balance. These changes have the potential to change a ton of dynamics, even though they are not changes directly to Creeps. Time and feedback will be best spent there. I've got the threads in the suggestion forum to chew on and there is good stuff in there. For now, I'm not going to open those worm cans just yet. - HoarseDev
Q10: Do you have plans to extend the music system with a (or more than one) new instrument?
A10: Revisiting the music system or adding on to the number of instruments isn’t in our upcoming plans. - Derek
Q11: How (and who!) decides what outfits go into Lalia's Market? Do you just kind of select a bunch at random from Cosmetic LOTRO or is there a process?
A11: Our team, headed up by Aubergine, has several resources at their disposal. We accept suggestions from people internal to the company and any of you! Also, the cosmetic bloggers of the world have been really helpful in sharing their designs with us so that everyone can see their amazing work. Finally, we do come up with some designs ourselves. - JHD
Q12: I understand that the global LLF channel is sometimes used to determine how many people questing in groups on each server. Is that true? Do you have other methods of determining how many are logged on and playing?
A12: It’s true that game masters and individuals in Mission Control will often monitor GLFF, and it may be used to give some informal feedback about grouping. But we rely more on our back-end server monitoring tools to observe player behavior. - Nathan
Q13: I wish I knew the real reason for the lags and if and when you are going to eliminate them. I suppose it is a problem in the server code/engine and/or client/server protocol which is not easy to fix?
A13: There is more than one cause for lag today, and as time goes on and the game (and the internet) change, new causes of lag are introduced. We have folks who work on this all the time, and if you are not satisfied with the results, well, know that we aren’t either. We have some brand-new performance monitoring technologies that we have recently put on the live servers, which have started to provide important clues. We are hoping for some significant improvements with the expansion pack, especially for some of the Mounted Combat cases. - Nathan
Q14: Will Chicken Session play ever be extended into new areas, as the game expands .. Possibly with a new skill or 2 to enable better survivability ?
A14: I had actually forgotten all about chicken play! I still have the Trollshaws quest in my log...waiting. Waiting. Someday I'll finish the journey. This question is a good reminder; we can't promise new chicken play content, but I promise to look into it! I would actually love to make some new sessions to explore the newer content from the eyes of a chicken. - Lauren
Q15: What is Turbine's process for tuning landscape/quests/instances/raids to an appropriate level of difficulty. Especially considering the huge gulf in the level of equipment within the player base. On group content do you have an ideal class composition in mind when you tune the content?
A15: For landscape, there’s actually an old rule for soloable gameplay of how many monsters an average player should be asked to fight for a quest. 1 signature, 2 normals, 3 swarms. This has needed tweaking as the game changes, especially with the introduction of Mounted Combat, Warbands, and open tapping most of all.
Landscape quest challenge is difficult to put into words because I think a lot of it comes from playing our game and feeling what was too easy, too hard, too grindy, too quick. The balance comes from what we learn while playing, and it becomes something that’s not completely conscious in our design decisions, but instead very ingrained in everything we do.
We do always look for ways to insert challenge into the content, but challenging combat usually takes the form of side quests, since many soloers won’t be able to get through it. In Wildermore, we added a bunch of skills to the new Warbands because we learned that the Rohan Warbands were widely considered too easy. – Lauren
A15: For instance or skirmish content:
Lots and lots of playtests and iterations.
Difficulty is intended to increase as both tier and group size increase.
We attempt to tune tier 1 to be beatable by our Palantir players, tier 2 by bullroarer, and then challenge for live. The reason for this isn’t because players on live are better than Palantir or Bullroarer players, it comes down to the groups being better because they’ve been playing together as the same group for years. There’s a familiarity with each other and a gelling over time as kinships that allow for different levels of coordination and collectively overcoming presented problems and situations, that more randomly put together groups of players simply do not have. If we beat tier 2 in house, then it’s not hard enough and gets balanced as such. Many challenges haven’t been beaten by anyone when they launch. We know they’re functioning and the numbers are where we project is doable, but we don’t have the coordination to pull it off ourselves.
Small Fellowship we tune to need a tank or a healer, but try to avoid requiring a trinity, even within challenge level difficulty.
Fellowships we aim for a trinity plus 3 others. We avoid trying to build 6-man content that requires multiple tanks.
Raids we attempt to design and tune to encourage 2 tanks, 2 main healers, 2 captains, and at least one of each class.
One of the biggest tricks is to be aware of the numbers when it comes to equipment and gear but to not be overly bound by it. Introducing chaos, and requiring communication and coordination by increasing the number of dynamic elements involved creates a far more challenging and satisfying fight than simply raising the health and damage. - JWB
Q16: Given player concerns about the license and Turbine's relationship with Saul Zaentz/Middle-earth Enterprises, can you say anything about LOTRO ending in 2014 as some have predicted?
A16: We plan to support LOTRO for many more years to come. We are very fortunate in that we enjoy a great relationship with Middle-earth Enterprises. They visit our offices several times a year to check out our upcoming plans for LOTRO and continue to be very supportive. - Sapience
Q17: To satisfy curiosity would it be possible to find out what the new PvMP region that was going to ship with RoI was going to be?
A:17 I can't go into crazy detail but some of the things kicked around were smaller, more focused spaces with specific objectives. Think skirmishes, but bigger and with both Freeps and Creeps competing for conflicting objectives. Several were on the table. They never really quite worked out. In terms of locales, Redhorn Lodes, Amon Lhaw and a spot in the Blue Mountains were in the works. - HoarseDev
Q18: I wish I knew if there were plans to add alterable secondary or tertiary dyes to the LOTRO dye system.
A18: Currently there are no plans to handle this. We have been looking into new types of dyes, but that technology is a little ways off. - JHD
Q19: If reverting the loot system to the way it was is off the table, how about some adjustments and tweaks. Anything like that coming our way?
A19: We are looking at several tweaks to the loot system at the present time. Some may come to light for Helm’s Deep and others will be bigger improvements going into next year. I can’t really give a ton of detail on these changes as they are really in flux right now. - Zimmitti
Q20: Why can't we mail more than one item at a time? How hard is it to change this?
A20: This has come up for discussion several times. It’s difficult to concretely answer a question like “how hard is it to…”, but suffice to say this is more than a few days of work – “bigger than a breadbox”, as we like to say. - Nathan