Today saw the release of another Producer’s Letter from Kate Paiz. Let me start out by saying that I like these updates. Yes, they are somewhat full of ambiguities and “marketing speech”, but so what? I wish that more companies had someone high up the food-chain that would put out things like this. So Kate, if you should happen to read this, thank you for setting aside the time to write something up for the players to read. I will take a long letter that is carefully crafted not to reveal or promise too much of what is coming in the future than silence. To me, it’s the effort that makes such a thing feel heartfelt. Now onto the actual content:
Free Epic Quests in Moria & Mirkwood
Summary: “We’ve had a lot of feedback from former players who came back with the free-to-play launch that they were really hoping to have a chance to play through Moria and Mirkwood without having to commit to the up front cost of the expansion.”
My thoughts: I actually think that this is a great idea. The best way to encourage someone to purchase something is to give them a sample; not hiding it behind a wall, and this goes for Moria and Mirkwood as well. How many of you remember walking into Moria and thinking “wow” or something as you climbed up that staircase? However, if you don’t get to see it you don’t know what you’re missing. I think this will go a long way to boost their sales for those areas and I have no problem with them opening up the landscape and Epic Questline for those areas.
New Content Type: Tasks & Lone-lands
Lone-lands Summary: “A lot of players get through the free regions and realize they need more reputation to continue with the Epic Quests in the Lone-lands.”
My thoughts: This reads to me that the Lone-lands was not selling very well because of faction issues. The item that was supposed to be drawing people into the zone (the Epic Questline) was broken, because it relies on you boosting your Eglain faction; which can only be done by doing quests in the Forsaken Inn. Oops, lesson learned by Turbine. However, obviously the price drops we saw were meant to encourage people to purchase the area and play through the content. Since it is ending up as free, that strategy must have not have worked. However I think it kind of stinks that the people who purchased it early on didn’t get some kind of compensation.
Tasks Summary: “The second, Tasks, is a new type of quest that allows you to change your trophies into reputation, and was launched as a Beta feature in the November update.”
My thoughts: This system, while it has promise, has flaws. Now, let me say that I have not tried tasks. The feedback that I’ve heard though is that these feel very “thrown together” and lack the polish and depth that Turbine is otherwise known there. Yes, I get that it’s Beta. And yes, I know there are already “go kill ten rats” quests in LOTRO. However, I also feel that every one of those kill quests usually has a storyline or at least a good supposition for why you are going to do what menial task the NPC wishes you to perform. Maybe a town needs boar meat; maybe a hunter needs furs; or perhaps wolves are terrorizing the countryside. But Tasks seem to say “gimme yer junk kk thx”. I’ll be sure to test them later, and maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. But if they really just are a pale comparison to actual quests, how can you expect to encourage people to delve into a game that has a rich lore and quests when all you show them is something that some feel is junk? To me it sounds like the intentions are good, but the implementation is poor.
Radiance & its removal in Q1
Full Quote: “We’ve received a lot of feedback on Radiance gating since its introduction and are pleased to announce that Radiance gear will no longer be a requirement for any of our instances or raids. In fact, with the release of our Q1 update next year, we will be removing Radiance from the game entirely. It will not be present in the new Instance Cluster or Epic Book and will be removed from all current instances. You should get your first look at a Radiance-free LOTRO on Bullroarer in early February of next year.”
My thoughts: This is exciting, and I think a bit needed. Although there will be gating of instances (it will just be player based now) it still opens raiding up to a lot more people. I personally can’t wait! Plus, for those who aren’t into raiding there are a lot of dungeons coming that are probably both 3 and 6-man orientated. I am psyched.
Next Steps with Legendary Items
Full Quote: “We’re planning on doing two upgrades to Legendary Items next year – one in the Q1 release, and one later in the year. The goal is to respond to a bunch of your feedback and to incorporate some more versatility, flexibility and less randomness into the system. We’ll certainly be releasing a dev diary on the Q1 changes as we get into next year.”
My thoughts: Thank the Lord! I personally have been bumping up my whole “LI Lottery” game, and it’s tedious to say the least. I finally have 3 Third Age and 1 Second Age that I like, but I’m still trying to boost up my relics; and it’s a pain. I’m interested in seeing what they’re going to do and why they plan on breaking it up into two releases. However, if it’s anything like they did with the Bank update (one was a basic update and the second refined the new system) then all aboard. That strategy worked out really well and the Bank is better than ever.
Other stuff that we’ll be seeing
The Cosmetic system is getting some improvements by getting more dedicated space though a Character Panel revamp more outfit slots for purchase (we have confirmed with Turbine that this means that instead of just Outfit 1 and Outfit 2, that there will be something like Outfit 3 and Outfit 4 as well). Cosmetic pets are still slotted as being “on the way”, but unlike LI’s and the Cosmetic system which are slated for a first pass in Q1 and a second pass later in the year pets have no current (public) timeline. She also refers to the raid and Instance Cluster in Q1 as well as more instances coming with the Anniversary Update and that First Age items (level 65) will be coming in those raids. Also, expanded and revamped Monster Play is of course coming with the Rise of Isengard Expansion. It sounds like a lot of stuff is coming up, and I’m sure there’s more that she didn’t or couldn’t talk about as well. So if you think that Turbine’s well is running dry as far as upcoming content
My only real objection to any of the letter’s content is the wbshop.com mention. I can understand her plugging this in case people didn’t know about its existence. And really my objection isn’t so much to the mention of the store as it is to the WB’s decision to launch the shop with just 2 mugs and 3 mouse-pads. I feel that LOTRO is a bit more deserving than just that meager presence. No posters? No maps? No t-shirts? No overseas shipping? Boo. WB, your product deserves a bit more than that.
Overall it’s a good letter and again, I’m very appreciative she took the time to write it.