Popping: New servers/hardware, software
I'm making my way through this podcast, which features a pretty good discussion between the two hosts of the LOTRO Reporter show with Andy and Athena. Athena spends a decent amount of time talking about the new server upgrades which entail entirely new hardware and software. I've never really seen a clear answer on whether the graphical popping is client side or server side--but I just wanted to throw it out there that addressing this would be huge.
For those that aren't aware, this is exactly what it sounds like. It's what happens when you run towards a tree that is more than 40m away, and at various intervals as you approach, the tree 'pops' from a distant impostor to a not-so-detailed tree, then to a meso-detailed tree, and then to what it looks like when you're right underneath it. In theory, it's a great way to reduce load on the client-side, especially in a forest or something, but the transition is so stark and cartoon-y that it's cripplingly immersion-breaking. Just a shame considering how much time the devs spend on map/level design.
If you've not already heard this discussion, it's worth checking out (starts at 30:30)--lots of good info on how hardware affects the choices the devs make. Also, Athena said that just two of the new servers could host the entire LOTRO population, which I thought was interesting. Some info on Minas Tirith, and beyond (getting to Mount Doom), too. Few other topics work taking note of.
Elbineezerscrooge - Landroval