We’ve changed the name of this feature going forward to “Ask the LOTRO Team.” Mostly because we get so many great questions we hate limiting it to just 20 answers. True to form, this time around we have answers to 42 questions posed to the team by you.
Q1: We're getting revamps for Book 13, any plans to add new region content vs. just updating old regions?
A: [Budgeford] - There will be a small slice of new region content alongside the revamps for Update 13, and there are plans in the works for a full small region in the near future (but sometime after 13).
Q2: Which areas are being revamped for update 13?
A: [Budgeford] - We're hitting the North Downs, Trollshaws, and Misty Mountains with Update 13. North Downs has a lot of content already, and it's a great zone, but the quest flow and level range definitely need some love. Misty Mountains and Trollshaws are beautiful zones, but the quests are sparse and often difficult to find. We're hoping to address all of these issues during the revamps.
Q3: Can we expect a Kinship revamp anytime in the near future?
A: [HoarseDev] – We are designing some features that weave some Kinship stuff into housing improvements.
Q4: Have you found a way for Kin members to contribute Mithril Coins so that the leader can purchase additional storage?
A: [HoarseDev] – It’s on the table. We’re looking at a lot of ways that Kinships can work together.
Q5: What kinds of updates are you contemplating for enhanced housing? Will Mithril Coins be necessary for all these enhancements?
A: [HoarseDev] – Yup, we’re still cooking up some housing improvements. We want to weave some of them into the Kinship system so that they have a more tangible social impact.
Q6: Will player housing areas be added in Rohan (Aldburg style, etc.) or other regions?
A: [HoarseDev] – Possibly.
Q7: Any chance to see the access to Ettenmoors possible buying some "Ettenmoors Pass" in the store and not only through VIP?
A: [HoarseDev] – Working on it.
Q8: Will there be a new PvP map?
A: [HoarseDev] – Not planned for any time in the near future.
Q9: Are you planning a major Ettenmoors update during 2014?
A: [HoarseDev] – We’re presently working on shoring up some of the fundamentals (long overdue stat updates). We are also prototyping some new stuff. No promises, but I want to see if we can get catapults in there.
Epic Battles, Skirmishes, Instances, Raids
Q10: When can we expect new content in the form of a new multi-boss raid?
A: [JWbarry] – A new raid is not in the plans for 2014.
Q11: Do you have any plans to make the BB talent tiers more accessible, especially for solo/duo players?
A: [JWbarry] – As we map out the rest of the year and how we want to expand upon BB we’re looking at how many new points we may be adding and also looking at the current costs of the existing traits versus how many points are acquirable.
Q12: Will Epic Battles be expanded to include more battles and/or size options?
A: [JWbarry] – We’re looking at locations and events within the roadmap for the rest of the year that would be suitable for new Epic Battles. We don’t anticipate any new sizes beyond the 4 we currently support.
Q13: Will Carn Dum et al (not the Rift I know about that), ToO be scaled in near future (2014/15)?
A: [JWbarry] – Carn Dum is not likely. It’s old, crufty, and huge, so it presents a lot of challenges that will take significant time to sort through and implement. ToO is more likely as it was built with scaling in mind. That said, there’s a bunch of work we like to put into instances when we scale them, and we’d like to do that cluster as a whole. There’s some reworking to be done in Dargnákh Unleashed and difficulty swings to be made in The Foundy, in addition to bugfix and polish passes through all the instances. While it is less time than making new ones, it is also generally less satisfying to the community as well. Having all instances available and relevant at cap is still something on the wishlist, but it’s not something we can commit to doing more of this year at this point.
Q14: Are there plans to reintroduce the currency bonus to the Instance Finder?
A: [JWbarry] – Nope. This bonus was initially in place as an encouragement to random a larger group of instances. At this point we’re comfortable with players selecting the specific space they want. We removed the bonus from Instance Finder and added into the base rewards for each instance.
Q15: With the advent of the player up scaling for Epic Battles is it possible and being looked into to allow us to downscale and run other classic instance spaces without requiring the old instances to be redesigned and broken up thus allowing for the continued use of locks on the instances like Tower of Orthanc, Carn Dum, The Rift, Draigoch, Moria, DN etc?
A: [JWbarry] – Not currently. Downscaling presents a lot of different challenges than upscaling does. Upscaling we’re adding statistics to the character, downscaling we have to figure out how to not just add statistics, but what to do about additional skills that have been unlocked. Upscaling can tend to produce underpowered characters, while downscaling more often produces overpowered characters. Additionally, our instance scaling works by moving the instance level up and down. Expectation of how a certain type of space behaves and consistency in its ruleset is a very valuable thing.
Q16: Are there currently any plans to (ever) create content for northern Mirkwood, Gladden Fields, the area south of Bree and other unused spaces that aren't close to the path of the Fellowship?
A: [MoL] – We have plans for areas that aren’t directly on the path of the main LotR story, but they’re prioritized below major events for now. We’ve strayed from the path of the Fellowship before and certainly will again, but the story is moving forward into interesting territory and we don’t want to miss that.
Q17: Will the destruction of Isengard by the Ents find its way into the game?
A: [MoL] – That happens while the Battle of the Hornburg is taking place, so in some sense it’s already happened, storyline-wise. But if you’ve been playing LOTRO for a while you might have seen some of the tricks we might use to let you experience it anyway…
Q18: Does Turbine plan to take us through the Paths of the Dead?
A: [MoL] – It’s tricky, but I think you can expect to see the Paths of the Dead in some form. Aragorn’s path through them is described rather specifically, but I think your character will have a different reason to enter and explore the Paths.
Q19: Are there plans for a new craft?
A: [NLS] There’s not a plan for a new craft profession. However, we have discussed the possibility of allowing players to add additional crafting abilities to their character beyond the three that come with your profession.
Q20: Will we see a Legendary item revamp this year?
A: [HoarseDev] – We’re in the ideas phase. It’s a maybe.
Chat channels, Mail and Social Options
Q21: Chat channels: Will we ever be able to have more than 4 user chat channels per character?
A: [Ransroth] - This is something that we could do if there is enough interest. The UI and interaction design isn’t set up to scale but we can overcome that if needs be.
Q22: Do the Regional and OOC chat channels transmit into the same area, or is one reaching a larger area than the other?
A: [Ransroth] – The same area.
Q23: Global Chat Channels have been suggested many times over the years. The Players Council has even brought the subject up. Is this something we’ll finally see this year?
A: [HoarseDev] – Looking into it. It is definitely on the radar. It has gotten pushed aside by other things more than a few times. Just finding a spot to fit it in.
Q24: Could we please get a larger Friends List and a larger ignore list?
A: [HoarseDev] – I’ll investigate.
Q25: Will the in game mail program ever be updated to mail more than 1 item at a time?
A: [NLS] We’re working on this now.
Q26: Will there be upgrades to the music system to use MIDI instead of ABC?
A: [NLS] We have no plans to make this change.
Q27: Any new instruments?
A: [NLS] There are currently no new instruments planned.
Q28: When inspecting someone, you can no longer see their traits. Will this be rectified in the future?
A: [NLS] Unfortunately with the trait tree redesign, viewing another player’s equipped traits has gotten a lot more complicated. As a result, we don’t expect to enable this function.
Q29: What is the team's opinion on having just 1 bag? 45 slots (bags 1-3) free to all, another 45 (bags 4-6) via purchase, and further storage also for purchase?
A: [NLS] We are working on changes for Update 13 that will allow players to customize the number of slots in a given bag.
Q30: Why can’t dwarfs be wardens? Why can’t any race play any class?
A: [NLS] We’ve discussed the possibility of doing this in the past, but it’s not something we’re currently working on.
Q31: Are there plans to remove all the old icon-placeholders & doppelgangers that are still used for buffs, items, jewelry etc?
A: [HoarseDev] – Icons are always… challenging. We are working on sorting a lot of this stuff out.
Q32: Will we see any more developments in the Lua API?
A: [NLS] None are planned at this time.
Q33: Question for [HoarseDev] - Back during HD Beta in one of the dev chats we had in game it was suggested that key mapping be added as an option for Class Trait Presets and maybe for Big Battle Promotion Presets. You stated you liked the idea and were going to put in a request for it. Is there any update on if this is planned or being worked on?
A: [HoarseDev] – There is a meeting to sort out some details this week. We had a lot of overlapping vacation time with the key stakeholders over the last month =)
Q34: Would it be possible to go more towards the atmosphere and the style of the films?
A: [MoL] – Our game takes its inspiration from the books, just like the films do, and it’s the atmosphere and style of LotR that we’re trying to capture, not anything specifically from the movies themselves.
Q35: Do you have any plans to set up another 'Design a horse' contest, or similar fun contest which allows players to show their creativity?
A: [Sapience] Not a horse, but we are looking at putting together another “design” type contest in the future.
Q36: Have you ever thought about using polls for the community to vote on what changes (be it large or details) they'd like to see?
A: [Sapience] We have in the past. Usually for minor things. The servers we added when we launched free to play were named based on a player poll. Riddermark was the top choice with 616. We may use polls again in the future for smaller questions like this one.
Q37: Are there any plans afoot to streamline or improve the server transfer process?
A: [Sapience] YES! I can’t really say a great deal right now, but the team is hard at work at making this process much easier and faster.
Q38: Sapience, do you think that Player council is doing well? What can be improved in the PC?
A: [Sapience] We’re very happy with the Players Council so far. Like anything you do for the first time we think there are things that can be improved. The council itself gave us a list of things that could improve the council and much of that feedback will be incorporated into our next selection process.
Q39: The Player Council seems to be a good idea. When will there be an opportunity for a fresh set of blood?
A: [Sapience] Yes. We’ll be announcing a new call for applications very soon. Probably towards the end of February.
Q40: Could the ideas brought forth by the Player's Council be more transparent? Not the answers, just the ideas. We want to know that our ideas are being brought forward.
A: [Sapience] This is a suggestion the council themselves made. It’s a part of the changes we’ll be making for the 2014 council.
Q41: Are there any other fun events such as "Take the Hobbits to Isengard" planned?
A: [Sapience] YES! We’ll let you know when we have things sorted out. Right now we’re trying to get through all 29 servers for this event. But we plan on doing more Live Streaming in 2014 in general.
Q42: Are you working on fixing the lotteries? What is the progress?
A: [Sapience] The lottery system is currently down. The team is looking into it, but I don’t have any new information on when they’ll return.