|Whatever it was that I expected from Providence, Rhode Island,
it sure wasn't one hundred degrees of heat! That was what we got though,
so you can imagine how delighted I was, after a long day of walking the
steamy streets of Providence, to see the little message icon on my phone
and hear the voice of Methost telling me that the crew had arrived from
New York and the hospitality room was open. After a warm welcome and a
cool beer, I set about associating names with faces and listening to the
tales of their adventures so far. Too soon however, I had to take my
leave to catch the last bus back to my hotel in Warwick - but not before a
friendly shuttle bus driver claiming to be Bilbo had driven us all over to
Hemenway's for some fabulous seafood and then come to pick us up when we were finished.
|Saturday, the day of the Lunch, dawned clear and hot, promising to be
even hotter than Friday was. We had agreed to meet at the hospitality room
at 1100 and then make our way over to Dave and Buster's. We actually met in
the lobby instead so that Loth could enjoy her cup of something almost, but
not quite entirely unlike coffee, and Briand could gaze with rapt amazement
at the wonders of American television. We had a hard time preventing him
from phoning in a $40 pledge so that he|
|could receive the stunning gift of a
license plate holder with different colored neon lights around the edge.
Fortunately, he was distracted by a troop of musical Mounties singing about
'always getting their man' and we were able to lead him away from the television
set to the lunch.
||At Dave and Buster's, the first thing that struck me was the number of
Turbine shirts in attendance, and the piles of LOTRO swag on the registration
table... oh, that's two things... well then, the first two things that struck
me were... ah, let's not get into that. We'll have the Knights that say "Ni"
later, so we don't need the Spanish Inquisition now. Yes, the dev team from
Turbine were there in force and were quickly surrounded by many sets of eager
ears. Under the watchful eye of Patience they were careful with their secrets,
but were happy to talk on general subjects, and perceptive interviewers could
sometimes glean a little more information than perhaps they had intended to give.
|the other attendee's accounts of what they learned, see the various threads
on the official forums.
|Before too much conversation could happen, though, we got the call to the
Lunch of the Rings. Tables filled, a few brief words were spoken by our hosts,
and we were treated to some video greetings from friends that were unable to
attend. Then, our attention was directed to the menu scrolls bound in ribbon
at each of our places. A bowl of Rosie Cotton's soup, a big plate of Midgewater
Swamp Mudbug Pasta, and a slice of Lonely Mountain Silk Pie filled corners I
didn't even know I had. The food was delicious, and the company made it that
much better. Hardly had we tucked away the last crumbs when NobOrBob took to
the stage to answer a few selected questions as well as he was allowed to. In
one of my favorite quotes, he stated that the goal of the team was
|"to create a
sense of Middle-earth." There was little detail on anything, but he did touch
on a number of items that have been of great concern to many people. Most notably,
he assured us that there would be non-combat related content, and that crafters
would be very happy.|
||Once NobOrBob had had his say, Methost and Light of Arnor took to the floor.
In the corner of the room was a table covered in loot, and the time had come to
start the draw. Many books, discs, toys, and t-shirts were won including... a
Knight that says "Ni", complete with herring! But better was to come. After
the table cleared came Patience bearing gifts. Five beta seats were drawn for
and won, and then came a carefully wrapped package. The winning ticket was drawn,
and forward came Meredoc to claim his prize. The wrapping was removed revealing a
beautifully framed print of the ringwraith screenshot, signed by the entire Lotro
|As Dave and Buster's efficient staff swooped in to clear away the debris of the
lunch, conversational groups formed once again and I joined in Zoue's chat with Nick
and Hakai about particle effects. Hakai explained how there was a fine line between
too much and not enough, and it was that fine line that they were trying to achieve.
They have moved away from the AC experiment of putting status indicators for everything
onto the avatar since this resulted in far too much glitter and flashing lights.
Moving on, I joined a discussion with the Asheron's Call QA Lead on some of the
difficulties with volunteer testing. I hadn't realized, but in beta testing with
volunteers, they are not permitted, due to the legalities around volunteers, to give any
instructions about what to test since instructions can only be given to employees and
volunteers are not employees. That has to make it more difficult to organize effective testing!
|At last, our time at the lunch was up and we made our way back to the hospitality
room where the discussion turned to weighty topics like nancing elves, balrogs falling
from the sky, the exact conversion factor for litres to ounces, and where exactly was
the Trinity dungeon. The Turbine folks left to make their ways home, as did those others
of us who had places they needed to be. I was sorry to leave the good friends that I had
met such a short time ago, and I look forward to another year of interaction with them on
the forums and fansites, and to seeing them again next year. My thanks go to the LotroSource
crew for their organizational efforts, to ogaming for providing the hospitality room (sorry
you weren't there, TucksMa,
|and hope you can come next time!), and to Turbine for the great
support. We at TenTonHammer are proud to have been part of this event.|