by Cody "Micajah" Bye

When Lord of the Rings
Online: Shadows of Angmar
was released earlier this year,
Turbine made a promise to its players to give them constant content
upgrades that not only helped tweak the original gameplay but added
significant new portions to the world as well. Dubbing each of these
updates "Books", Turbine has released two of these large content
enhancements since the game hit store shelves in the spring of this
year: Book 9 and 10. Each of these upgrades have provided new
instances, unlocked new areas to explore and upgraded the existing
content to the general benefit of their vast swath of players.

At Leipzig GC '07, the Ten Ton Hammer team roused themselves early on
Thursday morning to make the trek to the Leipzig Messe (convention
center) where our appointment with Turbine's Jeffrey Steefel, executive
producer for Lord of
the Rings Online
, awaited. Entering the meeting, we didn't
know what to expect from the Turbine exec. We prepared ourselves to
discuss Book 10, but in our heart of hearts we yearned for information
on the as-of-yet unknown content. As we entered the Codemasters Online
booth (the European publisher of LotRO), Steefel gave us an
enthusiastic reception, thanking us for coming and setting the stage
for what we were going to see during his talk. However, Phil and I both
had our eyes glued to the computer monitor that was in the room with
us. On the screen was blazing a exotic looking wallpaper with "Book 11
Preview" plastered on the front. Our prayers had been answered.

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Jeffrey Steefel
discusses some of the upcoming pieces of content in LotRO's Book 11.

Before he began, Steefel informed us that we couldn't take any pictures
of the new content - it's still under development - but we were free to
write down anything he said in the preview, which was quite a load of
information. Steefel introduced the his presentation by giving a brief
synopsis of what Turbine had achieved so far with the game
post-release, how much content had actually been added to the game and
what sort of attitude Turbine had when approaching their new content.
"The goal is to really look and listen to what the players are doing
and address issues in the game by both adding new content and adjusting
old content so that these updates are addressing what the players
need," he said. And thus far they have done a fairly remarkable job,
with Book 9 and 10 new content was released for the levels in which the
players were stationed (25-35 for 9 and 50ish for 10) and existing
content was modified to balance or improve the gameplay that was
already there.

But Steefel could tell that Phil and I were chomping at the bit to hear
about the Book 11; our eyes were gleaming with the thoughts of what
could be coming into the game that would top what was released in Book
9 and 10. With a smile, Steefel clicked over to the next slide. On the
top, the word "Housing" was displayed prominently. While rumors of
housing being added to the game have circulated since E3, the
developers had not gone into any detail on the subject nor had they
announced exactly what the housing would entail. Steefel was quick to
point out that not only will player housing be available, but Kinship
housing as well. In my mind, I could hear LotRO fans everywhere
cheering with glee; player housing is amazingly appropriate for the
gameplay style of LotRO and I imagine a vast majority of the LotRO
players will be interested in any sort of housing available to them,
Kinship and player alike. "We've established a place where people love
to be," Steefel said. "Now we're trying to give the players a chance to
live there."

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Cody "Micajah" Bye
listens intently to the words of Steefel, smiling at the executive's
enthusiasm and good humor. Houses are also pretty damn cool.

In the scheme that the Turbine developers have devised for housing,
there will be four unique neighborhood types for housing. Each of these
neighborhood types will be based upon race. While we were oogling the
information, Steefel wanted to make sure to emphasize a certain point,
saying that "it's important to note that these are neighborhoods and
not just places for houses." On top of that, Steefel stated that you'll
be able to decorate your house. From the concept art that Steefel
showed us, we noticed that each of the houses will have their own
racial stylings involved. For example, Elven houses will be flowing,
epic, and grand, sporting amazing all sorts of filigree. On the other
hand, Hobbit houses will be much shorter and rounder, looking more like
the inside of a ship (with the porthole type windows).

According to Steefel there will be hundreds of cool items that you can
decorate your house with, ranging from the standard sets of furniture
to Elvish welcome mats (that actually say "Welcome" in Sindarin). With
the rabid fanbase that LotRO has already developed, all of these items
will certainly have their place in the gameplay for RPers and non-RPers
alike; it should be a fascinating journey to watch houses spring up all
across Middle Earth.

Along with the addition of housing in Book 11, Turbine is also working
on several new areas for players: the Ettendeep and the "Extreme" Misty
Mountains. Talking about Ettendeep first, Steefel explained the new
area as a place below the Ettenmoors (where the Monster Play occurs)
and is a huge expanse of catacombs and caves for the players to
explore. "What's interesting about this," Steefel added, "is that this
is expanding upon some of the work that we're trying to do with
controlled areas and stuff like that." They couldn't give a whole slew
of details about the new zone, but they said that they were going to
release more information to us as it became available.

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Lord of the Rings Online Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016