Compiled by Ralsu
Recently, the Turbine developers behind Lord of the Rings Online:
Shadows of Angmar (LOTRO) have been taking time from their busy
schedules to answer a barrage of questions from forum users at
Turbine's LOTRO site.
With the Q&A thread now in excess of 20
pages, I have sorted out the questions that received an answer and
compiled them into a handy format for you. Simply click on the question
that interests you to see the answer. Then click on "Back to Questions"
to come back and pick another one.
First, I want to highlight why the developers decided to be so open
with comments at this time. Lead Game Systems Designer Nik
"Mithral_Miser" Davidson offered:
A lot of
us went out of our way to get clearance to talk about more than we were
able to before.
Ask me any one question you want, and I'll answer it. Pull no punches.
This isn't a PR exercise, this is us excited about really getting a
chance to talk about the game that we've been pouring our lives into.
Finally, before we get to the meaty stuff, Miltral_Miser had this to
say about the questions that don't get answered by Turbine:
If we don't answer your question, it doesn't mean it's not a good one,
or that we're hiding something, or that we hate you. There's just a lot
All answers come from Mithral_Miser, October, and Scenario of the
Turbine LOTRO development team.
- When does beta start?
- When does the game come out?
- How do you feel towards the
people who have doomed this game to oblivion? It seems that the
majority of the mmo population thinks this game will fail miserably.
- How do you think LOTRO will do against the
competition out presently?
B. Character Customization
- My biggest question is if you're going to model
your character creator
after DDO's or if you're looking into a more expansive or less
- Are the actual avatars going to allow
us unique individual[ly] as well?
- Are there different cloaks
with hoods up and down, or can you toggle it?
- Can the tallest Hobbit be bigger than the
- Does character age affect character appearence
- I'm assuming armor has some kind of racial
looks - i.e. elven armor
will look different from hobbit armor in terms of styling?
- If I'm an elven armorsmith, I make a helm and
sell it to a hobbit,
will it look elven or hobbity when the hobbit puts it on?
What lengths will be available for hair, and
will race affect that
at all? I don't recollect many elves with buzz cuts.
- About loremasters: will elves and humans have
a different set of
loremaster skills, or have similar skills but gain them differently? In
short, will human and elven loremasters be different from each other?
- Much discussion has been made of Jeff Steele's
comments about the
Loremaster having a vial of oil as a lore appropriate alternative to
the Sorcerer's fireball. Does the loremaster have something like this
as an offensive, direct
- Will the race of the character influence
crafting at all? Such as elves
making more durable long lasting items, but dwarves making stronger
- Because there isn't race-specific
crafting, does that mean every race can make lembas or nobody can?
be feasible to be a
crafter/gatherer without ever having to engage in combat - EVER - or to
have to enter areas for
crafting/gathering purposes where combat is going to be nearly
impossible to avoid.
road for, say, a Master Crafter to be able to have an Apprentice or two
(either NPC and/or PC)?
items via Maker's Marks?
resells their goods and
takes a cut of the profits?
with regard to the way
items look? Can we add decorative embellishments, like script on a
sword, inlay on plate armor, etc?
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F. Game World
- Can our characters sit on chairs properly?
- Are there balrogs in-game and if...wings or
- Will we see such common fantasy monsters / bad
guys like Vampires and
werewolves, even though they are loosely mention in the Silmalirion? Or
are they a no go?
- How many...giant bugs are there?
- Are stone Giants going to be in the
- If you could see one feature added, but it
isn't actually possible to
fit it in due to current hardware limits or lore boundaries, what would
- In the [Asheron Call games] you couldn't run
off high areas and fall to injure yourself
without trying (ie jumping off). In DDO i found that unless I was
careful I could fall off high spots easily (due to lag
problems)....Question is, which model is LOTRO following?
- When you are defeated, how are you revivied in
combat? As in, how would
a player revive another player in combat if they are instantly
transported to a safe place?
- There is mentioning of the seven initial
regions and I have some
questions regarding those:
- Do those regions together form the full first
- Are there loading times between those regions
there 7 regions (and further subdivisions) simply for the ease of
- How is this done? Just like in the real
by making some areas more level and others more hilly, some more dry
and some more wet and by having differences in flora and fauna?
- When running the longest distance (e.g. from
corner to the South-East corner), how much time would that take?
- When running that distance, is there a lot of
meandering to increase the distance or can we almost go anywhere cross
country only being deviated by the occassional mountain, deep lake or
- Housing (both private and fellowship), what is
your timeframe on it?
- Is the player housing still using the system
which was described a long
time ago? In that system the inside of a house was instanced and
technically removed from its surroundings.
H. The Industry
- What's your take on the current
market sitution of skyrocketing production costs vs increasing consumer
demand. Do you feel this stifles creativity and shut outs many from
even entering the market place? Many niche gamers feel they are being
toseed aside because of need to recoup production costs, do you think a
future market will be large and diverse enough to once again satisfy
them? How do you see the industry coping with this in the near and
distance future? Do you think that out-sourcing (domestic and
otherwise) development options such as engine licensing or art is a
smart and viable option?
I: Regional Servers for Australia
- Any chance of a regional server, or downtimes
so patching/server downtimes aren't aways impacting during OZ/NZ peak
J: User Interface
- Will there be any filters (aside from language)
the chat boxes, such as disallowing numbers (for leet) or use of
excessive characters such as exclamation and question marks, and also
constant capital letters? Or will it be "anything goes"?
- How are
you showing clickable objects in the game? Exaggerated, cartoony stuff
(like in DDO, EQ2) or something completely different? Here, I'm
refering to chests, harvestable resources, etc.
[Editor's Note: Turbine was unable to state
a date for beta]
[Editor's Note: Turbine was unable to state
a date for release]
How do I feel toward the "doom and gloom"
crowd? I feel hopeful. What I
mean by that is
this: I know this game's been in development a long time. We went
though some major changes. I don't feel we handled the news about PvP
or raids very well, and some people are pissed off. I don't blame them.
the game's good. I've worked on
a few and I've played a ton and I know the game's good, bottom line. I
played in the alpha last night, and I talked to real people running
around having a great time. We have a ton of work to do, but at some
point in the not too distant future, people are going to get a chance
to make their minds up for themselves, not based on what some random
malcontent on a forum was ranting about, but based on their own
impressions of the actual game in beta.
I feel hopeful. And if those people [who are
negative about LOTRO now] change their minds once they get a chance to
play (and I know that given a chance, the most vocal detractors of the
game would eagerly jump into the alpha right now to see if they're
right or wrong) then they won't owe anyone an apology. Them having fun
would be all the thanks we'd need. And if those people get a chance to
play the game and still don't like it, then I'll respect their opinions
all the more. Hopefully there's something we can learn from that too.
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Well, if you count all the possible color
option configurations, I could quote you some impressively large but
ultimately not terribly useful number about how many different visual
character combinations you could create. Practically speaking, you get
a pretty good amount. If you want to compare and contrast with DDO,
we're experimenting with some size-scaling things that DDO didn't have,
and we're doing a neat thing where we're tying color palettes (allowed
hair colors, skin tones and such) to a character's Nationality. Men
from Rohan tend toward the blonde and fair, while Breelanders tend
toward darker hair.
Most of the visual
customization options in LOTRO are all in the face, the hair, eyes,
facial features, that sort of thing. As you might expect, you lose some
of that as soon as you put on a helmet, or even as soon as you zoom out
the camera a bunch. Then it becomes a question of how unique and cool
the armor sets are. My take on it is, your character customization is
mainly for you, the player to see - the world is big, faces are small,
helmets are shiny. (And yes, we're likely to have a "don't show my
helmet" option so your Legolas-style prettyboy hair can be seen by all.)
Some cloaks are hoods up, some are hoods
down. Can't toggle it, though.
- Nope, hobbits are wee.
- Elven, I should think.
Hairstyles are all race-specific, and range
from bald to a bit past
shoulder-length. No elven buzz cuts.
Same set of skills. However, the racial
accomplishments that different
race loremasters can complete will give them different traits and
specializations. Loremasters of different races will be different from
one another, but those differences will tend to manifest later in your
I hate to contradict El Jefe, but the
loremaster doesn't currently
throw burning oil at people. He's not a nuker class. He has a "Burning
Embers" skill that involves throwing burning pinecones at people -
that's the closest analogue I can think of.
The racial crafting traits are things we've
talked a bunch about, but
it's not in right now. I'm going to give that one an "unlikely for
That's what it means. Which of those two
options it means remains to be
seen. I'd love to keep something as iconic as lembas accessible to
players, but I want to tread carefully around that one. So I'm leaning
toward "everyone can," but without a ton of conviction.
adventuring heroes. Combat's at the core of the game, and is required
to get through the tutorial. There's this little war brewing, and we
call pacifists "NPCs."
possible/practical for an adventuring
smith to "retire" after a while and focus exclusively on trade,
crafting, and commerce? Probably.
In the distant fuuuuuture, nebulous,
shifting and unformed, anything is
Everyone gets to be a crafter in addition
to their character class.
None of the character classes are purely crafters - everyone can train
a crafting vocation.
Yep, your name is attached to every item
exactly. (That was a bit
of a loaded non-answer, for those keeping score.)
- Yes, Avatars will have crafting animations.
- I don't know.
Faction isn't nearly as big a deal as it
back in the mists of time. There will be faction-related
accomplishments (do enough quests for the people of Breeland, and
they'll start to appreciate it) but it's not the system of old.
Not right now. Yeah, I know. Beat up Floon
about that one.
You know, I had never even heard of the
great wing debate
before I started working on the project. When I read the books for the
first time as a wee lad, I imagined the Balrog with wings. Who knew it
was such a religious issue? No, I didn't answer your first question.
I'm a big cheater.
Anything mentioned exclusively in the
Silmarilion is verboten for us.
We've got some giant bugs. I think
animators really like giant bugs for
some reason. Must be all the legs.
it's hard to get all the little
ping pong balls stuck on. (If you've never seen a "mocap", or
motion-capture session, that joke
probably didn't make much sense. It's funny, trust me.)
I'm going to try to avoid answering "Is [X
Piece Of Content] in the
game?" just because I don't want to steal the thunder of the artists
and content designers who haven't told you about their cool stuff yet.
But it's a universal rule = a monster is ten times more fun when it's
ten times bigger.
I'm only half-kidding. Heh.
I have a system of advanced weapon
customization that has been pushed
post-ship. It's way cool. I would really love to un-push it, but such
We're following AC2/DDO. If you happen upon
an cliff, you will find
yourself falling off it if you aren't mindful.
There is a period of time in which you lay
incapcitated on the ground
(you can chose to skip the timer and go to a Rally Point). During that
time, you may be revived.
- The latter
- Our environmental artists and worldbuilders layout a series of
references images and concept art and build areas based off those.
Terrain textures, trees and frills are designed around the reference
and concept pieces.
theme for the town and build the
town around that theme. For example - Scary is a quarry town, so much
of the decoration is themed around that. The buildings look more run
down than a normal "plaster and a hill" hobbit hole and stacks of
quarried rock lay around the entire town.
- I haven't done this myself, but I think That number has been
- I would say that we lean more to the "go anywhere" side than the
Right off the top of my head, I'd say
one of the most unexpected challenges is making different green wooded
areas look distinct from each other. A lot of Eriador is made up of
green fields with trees. Having recognized this was the case, we have a
guy on the team who is dedicated to making each of these areas look
unique and separate from each other. Hopefully, when we are done you
will be able to take a screenshot anywhere in the game, show it to
someone else who is familiar with the game and he would be able to tell
you what region the picture was taken based on the sort of trees,
grass, rocks and dirt you find there.
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Post-ship. I'd be more specific if I knew,
but I honestly don't.
There is no housing for the release of this
game. It is possible that
we will add it in an update or expansion.
considerations for housing that
needs to take place... Housing is like adding another player race to
the game, one that needs a bunch of systems that are unique to it and
it alone. Like players, it is desirable to have it customizable, only
it needs to be customizable in the outside AND on the inside. Any of
the things you would want to put on the facade of the house and the
interior needs to be made. Even if you use existing objects for
decorations, those objects aren't generally made to be placed in the
world by players, so even existing objects would need some attention.
Also, the houses should have race based appearances... a hobbit hole
should look different from an elf home. This causes other issues... can
an Elf build an Elf house in the Shire? Can an Elf own ANY property in
the Shire, Elf styled or Hobbit styled?
I'm not saying what the right or wrong answers are for these
considerations are, I'm just saying that housing is a huge task and
it's importantly that we do it right, or else why do it at all?
This is a tough one. Costs keep going up.
Way up. Which leads the
industry toward really being "hit-driven". I sometimes envy indie
developers that can succeed without cracking the top-ten seller lists
just because their costs are low. Then again, they don't get to work
with awesome licenses like LOTR. It's all tradeoffs. Personally, I
think that outsourced engines and frameworks (like the PopCap
Framework) will lead to a renaissance of "small" games again. Maybe
it's more "hope" than "think". Big publishers have become very
risk-averse, which might mean that smaller-budget games will see a
comeback in the next few years. We'll see.
Regional Servers for Australia
I don't know the answer to your questions,
but I will at least
commisserate. I know Kiwis have basically gotten shafted by the MMO
world so far, and I really hope we can do better.
I once tried to devise such a filter.
It, er, didn't really work. Language's a weird thing, and there's a lot
of combinations of characters that don't seem useful, except that
sometimes, they happen. Heck, imagine you're typing fast and instead of
"Heal me!" your finger slips and you type "He3al me!" If we filter that
out and display "***** me!" to your party, you might get a different
reaction than you had hoped.
more selective, and yes, we have
exacting rules for character naming. Chat, however, we have to leave to
its own devices. (Minus an obscenity filter, naturally.)
Largely, these are being represented by
objects that are unique
looking. Not neccessarily cartoony or exaggerated, but distinct and
different from the rest of the
foliage in the area to make them visually stand out, while still
falling within our art direction.
changes in your cursor and if you have
name labels toggled on, you will be able to see the name of the item
hovering above it.
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