The year is almost at an end -- and what a year it has been! Our sixth year was a very exciting one for us, and I wanted to take a moment to share some thoughts about 2013, and then, of course, talk about what’s coming up for 2014.
One thing I had hoped, when penning this letter last year, was that at the end of 2013 I would be able to write about the great changes we’d made to housing. But, as you are aware, we had to delay the bigger housing changes we have been working on to 2014. We had some very good discussions with the Player’s Council about what we should include in the housing revamp and there are a lot of excellent ideas out there. It takes time to develop those ideas into good, fun housing features, and while we could have rushed something out just to say we’d done it, instead we decided to take more time and make more meaningful changes. We will continue our conversation around housing with the Player’s Council, and I look forward to giving you an update later in 2014.
The release of Helm’s Deep was definitely a high point of the year for me! The new Epic Battles system allows us to explore momentous parts of the story and the Class Revamp gives us richer character development in the future. We know the class changes were dramatic, but we feel the game is in a much better state now because of them. Looking forward, balancing the class changes in both PvE and PvMP will be a focus for us, and Update 12.1 will be the first of many updates that address those balance concerns.
Another set of great moments in the year for me were when I got to meet with members of the Player’s Council and listen to their thoughts. We have a great group that has worked very hard to bring your concerns to our attention, make suggestions and provide invaluable feedback on a number of projects. I really appreciate their perspective and participation, and I thank them very much for sharing their time with us! At our last meeting, I discussed with them a broad outline of our plans for 2014 and I’d like to share that plan with all of you.
“Take a break from expansions”
We’ve heard a lot of you suggest we take a break from the annual expansion cycle, and we agree! We’d like to take the time to revisit some older systems, add more region content, and just generally have more Middle-earth to explore throughout the year. When the Players Council last visited, we asked them what they thought of a year that focused on more content and more opportunities to refine and improve existing systems. They echoed the sentiment we’d heard from many of you and were unanimous in their support. They were also very passionate on one point; VIPs should get this new content for free. (Again, we agree!)
More Content, More Often – Free for VIP.
In the past we’ve focused on yearly expansion packs that brought big changes and lots of new content at the end of the year coupled with smaller updates throughout the year and a new region in the spring. In 2014 we’re going to focus on a steady flow of content throughout the year. We’re planning on adding new content on a quarterly basis in 2014. Players have expressed a desire to explore a bit deeper into Fangorn Forest and to see Isengard flooded in the battle with the Ents. Both of these are slated for our first quarterly update in March.
Later in the year we’ll be seeing more iconic locales and moments from the lore including the Paths of the Dead and the Dead Marshes. We will also take our first steps in Gondor!
If you’re a VIP, these regions and content will all be free with your subscription.
Inventory and Bag Space
We know you can never have enough bag space when you’re out adventuring and inventory management and control can almost be its own mini-game at times. We think it’s time to take a new look at inventory in LOTRO and see where we can make improvements. Please share any thoughts you have on what works or what doesn’t work for you regarding inventory here !
Festivals and Events
We’ll continue to develop our festivals, new and old, and add more events for you to participate in throughout the year. If there are any festivals or events you’d really like to see us build, please let us know on the forums! A thread for Festival suggestions is here .
As I said earlier, Housing is still high on our list of objectives for the year, and the conversation thread can be found here. We’ll be talking more about this throughout the year.
We are working on one more secret surprise, but I won’t do more than tease its existence now, other than to say that the class changes have made it possible for us to consider making a new addition to the game… which we will talk about later in the year.
I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday season, and I am so excited to start 2014 off strong and have another great year with you! I wish you all a Happy New Year and all the best in 2014.
See you in game!
Kate Paiz, Executive Producer, The Lord of the Rings Online