"Patience" is a Virtue!
An Interview with Meghan Patience
Interview by Shayalyn
You may know her as Patience, the aptly named community manager for
Turbines The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar (LOTRO). I
managed to snag Meghan Rodberg for an interview to discuss her personal
history, and her work with Turbine. Here she shares her thoughts on the
game and the community, as well as a few small crumbs about her
experiences in the closed LOTRO beta. Read on and get to know Meghan
TTH: style="font-style: italic;">You recently celebrated your one-year
anniversary as community manager. Tell us more about your extensive
background in gaming and community work, and how you came to be LOTROs
guide and voice.
I began my online adventures in the late 80s on local bulletin board
systems, graduating to full-time work and co-sysop status at one of the
largest subscription-based, privately-held ISPs in the greater Los
Angeles area. This, the early 90s, was about the time I started to
play online games and MUDS, which sucked away hours and hours of my
My first job at a game company came in 1995 doing technical support. I
admit that I may have occasionally sounded distracted on the phone with
customers when my character was getting killed in the MUD I was
simultaneously playing Addict? Who, me? I eventually branched out
into working on the companys website and doing some community outreach
on gaming-related usenet newsgroups. In 1997 I moved to a major PC and
console game publisher as their online representative. A few years
later I put the brakes on my career (except for a little freelance
community work) to focus on my growing family.
In 2004, the planets aligned; Turbine was looking for an Online
Community Manager at the same time I was looking to go back to work. To
say this is my dream job is a bit of an understatement. My first
anniversary on the project was January 3rd, which coincidentally is
Tolkiens birthday I take it as a good omen.
TTH: style="font-style: italic;">How would you rate your understanding of
Tolkien loreare you one of those classic know-it-all Tolkien nerds who
lives and breathes The Lord of the Rings, or do you fall on the other
end of the spectrum or somewhere in between?
Im probably somewhere in between. After spending a year with the LOTRO
community I can say with confidence that my Tolkien is middling at
best. I know the difference between Elrond and Elbereth and what really
happened at Helms Deep, but I would still get ownd by several members
of the LOTRO community if it came down to The Lord of the Rings version
By the way, Im not sure Id call someone a nerd just because they live
and breathe The Lord of the Rings there are lots of folks in the
LOTRO community who have a very in-depth knowledge of Tolkiens works
without falling into nerdiness (is that a word?).
TTH: style="font-style: italic;">Keeping on top of Tolkien lore is one of
the challenges Turbine faces, what with licensing issues and a fan base
that is extremely knowledgeable. Does this affect you much in your
position as community manager? Is it necessary for you to have a good
understanding of Tolkien lore?
Its funny how much Tolkien lore Ive picked up just through osmosis in
the last year. It does help me to have a basic working knowledge of the
lore; however, I sometimes feel that not being so heavily href="http://lotro.tentonhammer.com/files/gallery/albums/LotRO_Screenshots/gray_squirrel.jpg"> alt=""
style="border: 0px solid ; width: 150px; height: 113px;" align="left"
hspace="5" vspace="2">invested in it (personally) helps me to
interpret the communitys feedback a little more impartially. I dont
have a pre-conceived notion of how things should work.
Its interesting how differently people interpret the lore. One has
only to visit the LOTRO forums to see how passionate people can get
about even small details like the proper color of squirrels in
Middle-earth, even though Tolkien may have never really addressed the
color at all.
TTH: style="font-style: italic;">Are there ways in which you feel the LOTRO
fan base differs from the typical MMOG fan base?
Definitely. I think we have the same challenge any game based on a
license has; there are folks who have a specific vision of how the
world is supposed to look and feel, so any deviation from that vision
can cause concern.
That said, the LOTRO community at present is very mature for a
gaming-related community. The core community consists mostly of adults
and young adults, with younger members coming and going. Debates about
the lore get heated and intense but the depths and detail which these
discussions involve can be very enlightening.
These debates sometimes drive me crazy, but I love what I do, and
having such a great group of people out there supporting the game makes
it all worth it. Im especially looking forward to this years LOTRO
Gathering, a player-organized get-together which was a lot of fun last
year. Our fans are very dedicated, and the team appreciates that
I fully expect the community to change drastically as we hit milestones
like alpha, beta, and launch. Its the nature of online communities to
evolve over time, and I think this is compounded in communities that
revolve around games in development.
TTH: style="font-style: italic;">Tell us a bit about the challenges
involved in keeping a game like LOTRO under wraps during development.
Is it difficult to keep mum while fans are champing at the bit?
Yes, it can be very tough! I want to shout from the rooftops about the
great things the team is doing, about the things I encounter in-game,
about the familiar places I cant wait for the community to see too
but all of this has to wait until the time is right.
TTH: style="font-style: italic;">Can you tell us a bit about Turbine
LOTROs presence at the 2006 E3 in May? What sorts of things are being
done in preparation (video footage, perhaps)? What sort of effect has
E3 had on the LOTRO production schedule, if any?
I cant tell you anything yet (see above). However, youll definitely
see us there showing LOTRO off. E3 is built into the teams schedule,
so no worries about it causing a delay.
TTH: style="font-style: italic;">Lets talk a bit about the game itself.
While I understand youre not deeply involved in the games development
from a technical standpoint, we know youve done something all LOTRO
fans are anxious to doyouve played the game. What can you tell us
about your experiences; for instance, do you have a favorite zone or
The Shire is definitely my favorite stomping ground. Its nearly
complete at this point, and I just href="http://lotro.tentonhammer.com/files/gallery/albums/LotRO_Screenshots/Shire_Windmill.jpg"> alt=""
style="border: 0px solid ; width: 150px; height: 113px;" align="right"
hspace="5" vspace="2"> love the mood it evokes. It style="font-style: italic;">feels like the Shire. My hairy
little hobbit feet feel right at home there, and the quests are very
creative. I do have a favorite NPC, but I dont want to spoil anything
by saying who it is.
TTH: style="font-style: italic;">Tell us about graphics. LOTROs graphics
are looking stunning. Do the screenshots do the actual gameplay
experience justice, in your opinion?
Yes, absolutely. LOTRO is just amazing. We recently released two new
screenshots of the Barrow-downs and the Shire; I took both of those
while wandering the world. In each case, I had to stop and grab a
screen because I just loved what I was seeing. Of course a screenshot
cant capture an actual gameplay experience, since its a still image,
but I think you can see from ours that our artists and world-builders
have a lot to be proud of!
your thoughts and comments here!]
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