Exclusive LOTRO Lothlórien Interview with Aaron Campbell

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Whenever a new content update for Lord of the Rings Online comes around, the Ten Ton Hammer staffers always look forward to talking with the developers from Turbine. You’ll rarely meet a group of nicer people, and there well-spoken passion about their game is contagious. During our tour, we had the opportunity to ask a number of questions to LOTRO’s live producer, Aaron Campbell, who was gracious enough to answer all of our questions. Enjoy!

Ten Ton Hammer: Are there any major mechanics changes going in with Book 7?

There are a number of game balance changes coming with LOTRO's Book 7.

Aaron Campbell: There are some pretty substantial changes to the overall game balance with this Book. These are meant to bring classes that were doing tactical sort of damage – like Minstrel and Loremaster – more in line with classes that do weapon-based damage like the Hunters and Champions. There have been a whole list of changes that have gone in because of that from changing the attacks players use to adjusting monster resistances to lowering casting time on Minstrel skill to tweaking monster health. There’s really just a package of things that are included in this update. It’s really just trying to balance things out with the numbers that we’ve been seeing since the launch of Moria.

Ten Ton Hammer: Will monster play be changing at all?

Aaron: We haven’t changed the content as it exists so much as definitely rebalancing some of the content based on the feedback and gameplay mechanics. We recently had a play test and the new tweaks are feeling very well balanced. Primarily, we’re upping monster resists, better damage and better perks to get them up to speed. After a major expansion, its always good to take a step back and make sure that your players are happy with the content and we make the adjustments where they’re necessary.

Ten Ton Hammer: Was there a big “concern” for players with the Mines of Moria expansion?

The developers at Turbine really examined their existing content post-Moria.

Aaron: Sure. I think that the combat changes we’re looking at doing are going to alleviate a big chunk of those concerns. We’ll continue to do that as well; we want to make sure that classes are attuned well to their roles. The classes got pretty specialized in Mines of Moria, but now we’re broadening them again and taking a step back. We want to make sure that classes are fun for a variety of different environments and playstyles.

We also took a look at the types of content we’re providing. We want to keep a good balance between the small group, large group, and solo-based instance spaces. There’s a lot of very focused group play in Moria as part of the expansion, and we wanted to take a step back with this update. We’re introducing a new twelve-man raid, but we’re also introducing a lot of solo content for the players. There are daily crafting instances now where players can go in and get different crafting nodes. We’re also doing some things with “item advancement” instances by blending these with the crafting instances and merging both of those things with reputation advancement systems. We’re building on top of the systems that we’ve built that have worked.

Ten Ton Hammer: So gamers really only saw part of Lothlórien at the end of Moria, correct?

Aaron: Correct. We gave them a peek with Galadriel’s Garden and the outskirts of the area. It was basically the location where Haldir meets with the Fellowship and offers to guide them through Lothlórien. That space is really a jumping off point for what many of the players will experience in Book 7.

Basically, players will need to insure the elves that they can be trusted in Lothlórien, or else the guards will shoot them down if they enter the golden wood.

Ten Ton Hammer: How do players show they can be trusted?

Aaron: It’s actually fairly straight forward. One way is to complete Volume 2 Book 6, which is the peak of the epic quest line shown up to this point. The conclusion of that is obviously the audience with Galadriel at her garden.

The other way is to meet with Haldir and then take some of the quests that are associated with that area.

Ten Ton Hammer: What’s with all the weird platforms?

Aaron: Those are actually called “flets.” These are the platforms that the elves use to watch over the wood. There’s also no buying or selling within Lothlórien, because the elves don’t use money. Instead, it’s all barter using these leaves and branches of Lothlórien. Many of the quests of the area grant you these items.

Ten Ton Hammer: Will players still get normal money too when they complete these quests?

Lothlórien will be the first reputation "gated" LOTRO area.

Aaron: Some of the basic mechanics still apply, like if there’s a repair vendor. But if there are reputation rewards or most of the actions located here in the wood, it will be focused around those barter items. A lot of the quests in Lothlórien grant these items, and there are even quests within Moria itself that give you these barter pieces.

Ten Ton Hammer: Are they sellable?

Aaron: Nope. They’re bound to the player.

Ten Ton Hammer: So what kind of combat quests are players going to be doing in Lothlórien?

Aaron: We really wanted players to be able to explore Moria in a little wider way in this Book. Essentially, we put in a solo experience that kicks off with an interaction between Legolas and Gimli going on an orc hunt, then we go back into Moria itself.

Ten Ton Hammer: So how do we get back to Moria in the story?

Aaron: It’s based on things you learn while hunting with Legolas and Gimli.

Ten Ton Hammer: So the players aren’t done with Moria once they finish the Book 6 content?

Aaron: Oh no. We have more than a couple things that lead back that way.

Editor's Note: We'd like to thank Aaron for taking the time to talk with us about Volume 2 Book 7. Check back in with us over the next few days to read our experiences in the LOTRO Book 7 walkthrough!
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