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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    44

    A Fresh Coat of Paint - Region Polish

    A Fresh Coat of Paint
    by Matt “Scenario” Elliott

    When you build a home, it is easy to think that it is the most perfect thing ever. But then, as time goes on, you look at the work you’ve done and begin to see occasional cracks in the plaster, scuffs on the floor and maybe a few horrible choices in paint color. It’s still your home – and you love it – but that doesn’t mean it can’t use a facelift once in a while.

    That’s what returning to work on LOTRO was like for me. My name is Matt Elliott and I was a member of LOTRO team from development all the way through to the launch of Rohan. After taking a break from Middle Earth for several years, I was invited back to the World Design team, and reacquainted myself with the world we created. There is a lot of love that went into building the landscapes of Eriador, Rhovanion and beyond – but the cracks in the plaster of our earliest regions are showing.

    To ramp back into building worlds, I was asked to take a critical look at Breeland and other areas to see what updated design principles and assets could be incorporated into our oldest of homes. It was a great way to get muscle memory going again, and it wasn’t long before using our tools became second nature for the second time.

    What does this mean for Breeland and Ered Luin?
    Most noticeably, Breeland has been given a high-level polish pass. Expect to see fewer impassable cliffs – and polished impassable cliffs where they are needed. Some terrain textures have been replaced with newer, better looking textures. New waterways and polished water materials have been added to make the landscape feel more like an ecosystem. Trees and frills have been updated in places to take advantage of newer and more detailed assets. Plus – a few small surprises have been added here and there to keep things interesting.

    In southern Ered Luin, we have begun the process of recomposing the look of the mountains surrounding the playable areas to match our current standards (if only we had the expertise with these tools 13 years ago that we do now!) as well as smoothing out the playable terrain to make it less tedious to traverse.

    What’s next for this house?
    Everyone on the World Team has portions of the original landscape that we’d like to polish. We’ve got a lot on our plate preparing for Update 23, but as we have time, we intend to look back at our older regions and see where we can spruce things up with a fresh coat of paint.
















    Last edited by Cordovan; May 10 2018 at 04:04 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    38
    Scenario, is that the Old Forest? I swear it looked different (and creepier!) when I was riding through it testing the lowbie anniversary quest objective to have noms with Tom Bombadil.
    What I do, I do in the name of peace.

  3. #3
    I've enjoyed exploring Bree so far. It's fun to climb hills I couldn't before. Some of the vistas look amazing from these new vantage points!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    132
    HOORAAYY!!! I love that you guys are doing this! The starter areas are my fav Thank you!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Louisiana
    Posts
    10,602
    Wow! Looks incredible! And a hearty welcome back to an OG dev! Nice to see some of the old band getting back together.
    Arda Shrugged - Elendilstone & Landroval

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    3 Harrow Rd., Bamborings, Shire
    Posts
    1,141
    This is wonderful news, and I can't wait to see the results of the TLC! I think this will make a wonderful impression on new players, making it even easier to fall in love with SSG's Middle-earth.
    Landroval - The Council of the Secret Fire Friendly, Casual, Mature, and always seeking more!
    .
    Musings on LOTRO and other games: www.killtenrats.com

  7. #7
    This is wonderful! Extremely excited to see these changes. Thank you for all the love and little touches you all put into the game.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    159
    I am so happy to see that landscape redesigns are now in our future. I can't wait to see more and more formerly impassable hills become new climbable terrain. This goes a long way to making the world feel a lot more natural.

    On that note, I have three questions that are brought up by this decision.

    1. What of more recent places like Gondor? I don't think I'd be speaking for myself if the White Mountains didn't eat up so much space, and gave the nation a lot more room to breathe.

    2. There's an impassable cliff/unclimbable hill that separates Bree-land, Evendim, and the North Downs. Is it necessary to keep from seeing Annuminas and Bree at the same time? Or could perhaps that area become traversable?

    3. Archet now being open in so many more directions is amazing. What about other areas opening up, like the northern Shire and Evendim not having a giant cliff-hill blocking off the view of the Brandywine?

    Thank you for coming back, Scenario. Keep on rocking our socks off with your changes to the map!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Watertown, MA
    Posts
    2,934
    The updated Old Forest looks spooky as heck.
    Cainwen Ciaphas, Captain of Crickhollow, HERO OF MIDDLE EARTH!!!
    I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered! My opinions are my own!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Belgium
    Posts
    459
    Quote Originally Posted by Scenario View Post
    A Fresh Coat of Paint
    by Matt “Scenario” Elliott

    When you build a home, it is easy to think that it is the most perfect thing ever. But then, as time goes on, you look at the work you’ve done and begin to see occasional cracks in the plaster, scuffs on the floor and maybe a few horrible choices in paint color. It’s still your home – and you love it – but that doesn’t mean it can’t use a facelift once in a while.

    That’s what returning to work on LOTRO was like for me. My name is Matt Elliott and I was a member of LOTRO team from development all the way through to the launch of Rohan. After taking a break from Middle Earth for several years, I was invited back to the World Design team, and reacquainted myself with the world we created. There is a lot of love that went into building the landscapes of Eriador, Rhovanion and beyond – but the cracks in the plaster of our earliest regions are showing.

    To ramp back into building worlds, I was asked to take a critical look at Breeland and other areas to see what updated design principles and assets could be incorporated into our oldest of homes. It was a great way to get muscle memory going again, and it wasn’t long before using our tools became second nature for the second time.

    What does this mean for Breeland and Ered Luin?
    Most noticeably, Breeland has been given a high-level polish pass. Expect to see fewer impassable cliffs – and polished impassable cliffs where they are needed. Some terrain textures have been replaced with newer, better looking textures. New waterways and polished water materials have been added to make the landscape feel more like an ecosystem. Trees and frills have been updated in places to take advantage of newer and more detailed assets. Plus – a few small surprises have been added here and there to keep things interesting.

    In southern Ered Luin, we have begun the process of recomposing the look of the mountains surrounding the playable areas to match our current standards (if only we had the expertise with these tools 13 years ago that we do now!) as well as smoothing out the playable terrain to make it less tedious to traverse.

    What’s next for this house?
    Everyone on the World Team has portions of the original landscape that we’d like to polish. We’ve got a lot on our plate preparing for Update 23, but as we have time, we intend to look back at our older regions and see where we can spruce things up with a fresh coat of paint.
    Welcome back! Always great to see former devs returning to the game.

    I went and had a look, lots of great stuff! Did run into some misbehaving reeds around the Hunting Lodge area near Archet though (especially one at loc You are at: r1 lx995 ly988 ox63.56 oy83.76 oz404.37 h165.9, seems to be distant imposter problems). Screenshot below. Same thing happens with reeds around Midgewater Marsh, and probably anywhere else you used that particular reed.




    Must say I really enjoyed seeing this old area get some love! Some more screenies (without misbehaving reeds ) below:





    Earbold (Laurelin [EN-RP])
    Member of the Bandits raid alliance
    Original Challenger of Gothmog and the Abyss

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    44
    Quote Originally Posted by Druidsfire View Post
    Scenario, is that the Old Forest? I swear it looked different (and creepier!) when I was riding through it testing the lowbie anniversary quest objective to have noms with Tom Bombadil.
    Yes - the Old Forest received the most dramatic face lift out of all of Breeland. But we worked hard to make sure that it maintained the same familiar flow through the space - the new tree walls add a lot to providing the forest depth while still keeping the maze intact!

    Quote Originally Posted by Wagoo View Post
    On that note, I have three questions that are brought up by this decision.

    1. What of more recent places like Gondor? I don't think I'd be speaking for myself if the White Mountains didn't eat up so much space, and gave the nation a lot more room to breathe.

    2. There's an impassable cliff/unclimbable hill that separates Bree-land, Evendim, and the North Downs. Is it necessary to keep from seeing Annuminas and Bree at the same time? Or could perhaps that area become traversable?

    3. Archet now being open in so many more directions is amazing. What about other areas opening up, like the northern Shire and Evendim not having a giant cliff-hill blocking off the view of the Brandywine?

    Thank you for coming back, Scenario. Keep on rocking our socks off with your changes to the map!
    The focus for my ramp-up efforts was Breeland (and some dabbling in southern Ered Luin). We have some thoughts for other regions, but the eldest of the regions are where we decided to give priority attention.

    The updates to the impassables followed these rules:
    • Is the impassable an exterior boundary? Lower and make it look more natural (get rid of that fish bowl!)
    • Is the impassable interior to a region? Remove if appropriate - though some interior impassables remain for gameplay or visual reasons (cliffs, for example)

    We aren't looking to grow the amount of space within the regions for this effort. Which means that there are still going to be areas of terrain between various regions that will continue to be inaccessible.

    It's great to be back - it definitely feels like coming home and seeing family again after too many years away.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    44
    Quote Originally Posted by B749 View Post
    Welcome back! Always great to see former devs returning to the game.

    I went and had a look, lots of great stuff! Did run into some misbehaving reeds around the Hunting Lodge area near Archet though (especially one at loc You are at: r1 lx995 ly988 ox63.56 oy83.76 oz404.37 h165.9, seems to be distant imposter problems). Screenshot below. Same thing happens with reeds around Midgewater Marsh, and probably anywhere else you used that particular reed.
    The reeds have been a headache of mine for a while - still working on figuring out why those imposters are misbehaving.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Croatia
    Posts
    725
    Quote Originally Posted by Scenario View Post
    The reeds have been a headache of mine for a while - still working on figuring out why those imposters are misbehaving.


    Try to pass over them with one of these.
    "Not all those who wander are lost....some are so stubborn that they always think they're going in the right direction."

    "The 4th age is the store age" - Hetweith

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Posts
    122
    This is incredible and just what LOTRO needed! LOTRO has always had fantastic scenery, but many of the areas don't show it off to the best effect. It's so nice to see these areas getting more attention.

    One question though, and this is not strictly related to World Design, but... do you know if there are any plans to allow players to increase the distance view of foliage and landmarks? Right now, you can wander through LOTRO, especially on a mount, and see trees, buildings, landmarks, and sometimes even things like waterfalls, constantly phasing in and out, switching between their flat billboards to their 3D models, or fading out completely, even though players aren't all that far away.

    For instance, if you ride down from Weathertop, the Forsaken Inn appears as an empty plot of land and doesn't "materialize" until you're about ten seconds away from it. Several waterfalls in Ered Luin look dried up until you're practically next to them. And "ghost trees" constantly swim in and out of your view as you ride.

    LOTRO has so many interesting things to see, it would be great to see them from a distance, and much less jarring to not have them appear and disappear in front of you.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Posts
    122
    Quote Originally Posted by Scenario View Post
    The reeds have been a headache of mine for a while - still working on figuring out why those imposters are misbehaving.
    I am reminded of this post on LOTRO Players News that happened during the last foliage update. You'd make a certain hobbit happy by returning the water lilies to the Frogmoors.

  16. #16
    Welcome back.
    It’s stuff like this that enhances the atmosphere in LOtRO and makes me appreciate the game even more.
    Knight | Captain | Arkenstone | Rainbows & Unicorns

  17. #17
    holy moly
    so many dev posts recently on the forums. kudos to y'all. please keep it up. it kinda breathes some urgently needed new life on the forums. and welcome back!

    i'm also excited to see old region gettin a facelift. awesome!
    Original Challenger of the Abyss

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    22

    Thumbs up Wowowowow. Wow.

    I got excited when I heard about the loooooooong overdue class balances coming up in the next update, but when THIS little gem came my way I had to drop what I was doing and go check it out immediately.

    I am extremely impressed. I know a lot of oldskool LOTRO players - myself included - who have been wanting to see the old areas get the treatment the newer areas have in terms of looks and accessibility. There are also some design choices throughout the years that have been extremely annoying to me and others, ie. invisible walls, impassable hills, passages between areas that should be traversable but aren't, etc. I agree 100% with the philosophy behind the design choices you've made so far and hope that all areas in the game receive the same love from now into the future. So with that said, some feedback and propositions for you.

    1. Fewer impassable cliffs and more polished impassable cliffs. This is a definitely much desired change. It's always frustrating in areas, especially new ones when it looks like you can go up a hillside, only to make it halfway and slide right back down. Now it's much more obvious what is passable and what is not. I even put this to the test in Archet in the little hill where the spider den is. It looked impassable but I wanted to make sure. So I attempted to climb it in the spots I thought might works, only to be very gently nudged back down in a very obvious "nice try - but you can't go there!" sort of way. Also Kudos to the rolling hills around Archet, Bree, and beyond. After having been through Archet dozens of times per character and staring at it for over 10 years in it's little fishbowl only to suddenly have to open up up into the vast Bree-lands is breathtaking and will encourage players both new and old to drive a character through it. (Also, if you continue to apply this throughout the rest of Middle-earth and break or smooth out some of those old region walls it would look much more like a vast, sprawling world instead of a collection of areas stapled together)

    2. Updated textures/frills/landscape. Looking good all across the board. I especially like the updated waterfalls around Combe. When you look at the waterfall above the Forbidden Pool in Henneth Annun and compare it to all other waterfalls in the game it's easy to feel like you just stepped into another dimension. The water itself in lotro still looks amazing after all this time, but the waterfalls for the most part look horrible by comparison. I love that the little stream that starts in Archet continues on to the Lumber Camp and you can follow it the whole way there if you want instead of being corralled into Archet. The Old Forest looks amazing and I'll love to go back through it on an alt, I love the smoothing of the barrow-downs to make it more accessible, and I love the swampier looks to Archet and the Midgewater Marshes. As was already addressed, those big reeds are a problem (I thought I was playing Minecraft in the Dead Marshes), and hopefully if it does turn out to be a distant LOD problem or whatever it is we can also talk about upping the draw distance so that trees and buildings aren't materializing when you're 10 seconds away from them (as was also mentioned). But overall, massive props. The LC especially looks great and I can't wait to see what else is in store.

    Before this turns into a novel I just wanted to wish you a happy welcome back and that if you've already accomplished so much impressive work in such a small amount of time then we're in good hands in the future. Here's to continuing to do what we love and shaping the world together. Welcome home, Scenario!

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Olore Malle
    Posts
    840
    thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!!!!!!
    My Lotro blog :)

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Middle Earth, Arda
    Posts
    5,318

    Thumbs up

    I must say that i love all those landscape updates. They looks neat!

    About reeds they do what reeds do, they grow huge, wild & in all directions provided enough water. Try controlling the water flow there.

    ~ Check my Kinship at Gladden server: The Fate of Middle Earth ~

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Posts
    332
    Love seeing these kind of polishes to the game, it makes Middle-earth feel better as a whole and really adds even more appreciation to the game. Additionally with these zones being the first ones new players come in contact with, it's more likely to give off a better impression of the game to them and may help them stick around.

    Would love to see you guys make your way around to Imladris eventually. It's never been bad, but seeing how Felegoth is, and even parts of Lothlorien, make you wonder just what could be improved in Rivendell.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    2,298
    From what I'm seeing on the screenshots it looks really nice!
    Pontin Level 115 Hobbit Burglar Kinship Second Breakfast Crickhollow Server. Staff member of the Lord of the Rings Discord Server, and Owner of Middle-Earth Lore discord.
    Alts: Legoan Elf Hunter, Belladonea Hobbit Minstrel, Unnari Dwarf Guardian, Jorunn Man Captain, Sallyberry Hobbit Warden. Laurelin Server, Edwell Man Hunter.


    Here's some of my Screenshots Throughout Middle Earth. Also can follow me on Twitter for Adventures in Middle Earth and more!

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    38
    There aren't many collision plates keeping freshly-rolled toons in the starting instance version of Archet (WAI? That would be wild if so...), but overall, I really like the update and hope the bugs get smoothed out before it goes live.

    Now if only Archet had gotten rebuilt...

    Thanks for doing this, Scenario!



    What I do, I do in the name of peace.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    2,469
    Scenario! It's great to see you back here. Every time I ride through Forochel I mentally thank you for your awesome work there.

    The "repainting" of older areas in Middle-earth is excellent news, and I look forward to seeing the results. Welcome back!
    Mandelbaum, 115 Champ; PeabodySherman, 115 LM, House of Mooters, Landroval
    Rembandor, 85 Champ, Penquanta Periannath, Laurelin

  25. #25
    YES! THANK YOU! I could never stand the "fish bowl" design of regions, as you put it. I can't wait to see the updates!!!
    BREGLOR · BRIFFO · ELIZA · APEY · RIFFO
    THE TEAM · GLADDEN

 

 
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