Opinions on LOTRO’s 20 Questions

July 10, 2013

LOTRO, Opinions

Yesterday Sapience posted a new “Twenty Questions with the LOTRO Dev Team”. I was going to call this “20 Opinions on 20 Questions” but honestly a good number of these don’t even evoke an opinion from me. More of a “ok good to know”, “who cares” or “duh” response. So here’s the few items that did make feel I had something to say.

Q4: Do the developers find the player council helpful or just another annoyance?
A4: The council has been very helpful. It gives us the opportunity to have very focused conversations. The threads don’t go on in to 40+ pages and the topics are very pertinent to current development. So far it has been a great and responsive sounding board. – Zimmitti

First of all I think this question is kind of silly. As if Zimmitti would say “no all these people are a waste of our time!”.

Right now the whole player council is shrouded in mystery. We’re told a lot of good stuff is coming out of their discussion which is good to hear. It is hard to get excited though as we’re not really sure where their influence was in our favor.

Who’d really like to hear about on this topic are the players on the council. Do they feel like they are helping and making a difference? Is Turbine listening to them and are ideas being incorporated? I’m not certain that these folks can tell us this as part of the gig was to be under an NDA.

My hope is that sometime we get a list of what the Player Council helped bring us players. We don’t need to name the people personally but give the group as a whole credit where credit is due. Show all us on the outside that it really has been a benefit. Sorry Turbine but you got to prove it worked; just telling us it’s going great isn’t really enough for me.

Q16: Given player concerns about the license and Turbine’s relationship with Saul Zaentz/Middle-earth Enterprises, can you say anything about LOTRO ending in 2014 as some have predicted?
A16: We plan to support LOTRO for many more years to come. We are very fortunate in that we enjoy a great relationship with Middle-earth Enterprises. They visit our offices several times a year to check out our upcoming plans for LOTRO and continue to be very supportive. – Sapience

This one was odd to me. The answer seems to be clear that no, LOTRO isn’t shutting down.

What I find odd is the question is about the license and the relationship but really only the relationship is clearly addressed. Is there some reason you can’t just make everyone stop flapping their cake-holes about the end of LOTRO by saying “the license has been secured” or something? This whole answer smacks of a PR or Marketing cleaned up response and I hope it’s clear to Turbine that this wasn’t good enough.

The happy answer is that LOTRO is going to continue for “many more years”.

Q20: Why can’t we mail more than one item at a time? How hard is it to change this?
A20: This has come up for discussion several times. It’s difficult to concretely answer a question like “how hard is it to…”, but suffice to say this is more than a few days of work – “bigger than a breadbox”, as we like to say. – Nathan

My only comment on this is MAKE IT HAPPEN TURBINE. Monetize it even. I will pay for the privilege of sending items more than one at a time. Surely this is worth more than a few days of someone’s time?

Read all 20 questions and answers on LOTRO’s Forums.

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About Goldenstar

Goldenstar's primary happiness in games is anything that involves festivals, parties, cosmetics and pie. If there's any time after those things to kill bad guys, so be it.

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21 Responses to “Opinions on LOTRO’s 20 Questions”

  1. Avatar of Ethelros
    Ethelros Says:

    I imagine the reason they haven’t said ‘the license has been secured’ is because at this point it hasn’t. Beats me why that would be a problem if the relationship between Turbine and SZ is so tight, but then all this legal shenanigans melts my brain.

    Definitely agree that these 20Qs are not very stimulating though. For anyone who stays in the loop and actually pays attention there’s very little, if anything of substance in them. The Twitter Dev Chats were better IMO, there was almost always something new in them, among the usual PR stuff of course.


  2. Avatar of Suzhran
    Suzhran Says:

    Agreed, agreed and agreed :)


  3. Adam Says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head:
    “Is there some reason you can’t just make everyone stop flapping their cake-holes about the end of LOTRO by saying “the license has been secured” or something? This whole answer smacks of a PR or Marketing cleaned up response and I hope it’s clear to Turbine that this wasn’t good enough.”

    I think the license question is telling… and this answer far from appeases me, though doutless the shrill believers will scream it from the roof tops. The fact that they chose to address this question, yet as you point out DID NOT actually answer it, makes it just a piece of PR crap to try and shut folks up, divert attention. Sure the game and player base is reasonably healthy, but that is largely irellevant compared to whether the game is profitable, in fact its worse than that, not just profitable, but profitable enough to hit whatever ever random goals and targets may have been set. The two may not equate, frankly none of us know this.

    I just wonder if, when push comes to shove, the bean counters at WB are going to see a relevant return for their investment of a license extension. Time will tell, I for one hope so, but it wouldn’t be the first time a healthy game was shut down by the accountants based, not on profitability, but on the quantity of its return.

    Lets be honest, if they knew outright now whether or not they were or were not going to take up an extension, do we think they’d tell us if not, because lets face it, this will hurt the Helms Deep expansion sales if we only get to play it for 6-9 months before closure. But if they knew they would, surely they’d shout unequivicably from the roof tops,

    “The happy answer is that LOTRO is going to continue for “many more years”.”
    IF they had said that we could rest a little easier, as it is: “We plan to support LOTRO for many more years to come” tells us they want to, but haven’t yet… sounds like they are in the same boat as us. Lets just hope ‘yet’ is the operative word here.


    • Tule Says:

      The license extension is going to happen, it’s nearly a sure thing. However it hasn’t been renewed yet because it is not time for renewal. Some people are acting like this is a serious thing and that the game might suddenly and without warning vanish if Middle Earth Enterprises decides to be fickle. It’s almost as if they want Turbine to immediately start renegotiating the license immediately as soon as one is signed, just in case.

      This has happened before. The license for the game has expired and been renewed. It’s mostly a rubber stamp.

      In other words, the license is not an issue, it is not a problem, it is not a risk.


      • Adam Says:

        I been around since pre Moria, I know how it works, I’ve also been gaming a long time and am generally an optimist; you’ll see that from a blog post I did on this some time ago, but I have also seen good, sustainable games dissapear. Its actually not a true renewal this time, but an extension option… which is subtly different, and ‘usually’ a way of reducing the risk and cost of a long term licence for a premium IP by deffering it as an option, with an attached cost, how much this is, who knows. I do know, from personal experience, Tolkien IP licenses are expensive. I doubt any threat comes from MEE or Turbine, but financial and performance pressures, which companies like WB place on their subsidiaries… and this is whats new, what hasn’t happened before.

        But hey, fingers crossed, I sure hope what you claim is the case, but you have no more empirical proof than anyone, this is all just rhetoric, all we know is the option hasn’t been taken up yet, we’ll all just have to wait and see. I’m far from a doom and gloom brigade, I spend a lot of my time deleting ‘fan boi’ comments off our blog, but I’m under no illusions the market must be getting tougher for Turbine.


  4. Joshua Says:

    Nobody else talks about their license status unless something actually changes. Why should Turbine be any different?

    The only reason — the ONLY reason — this is an issue is that there’s a doom-and-gloom brigade who WANT to believe that LOTRO is imminently dying. They’ve been trying to find evidence for this hypothesis apparently ever since the game launched. This license business is simply the latest attempt to make a mountain out of a shape that vaguely looks like a mole hill if you squint at it and believe really hard.


  5. Ithoran Says:

    I personally was not satisfied by that answer regarding the game’s license. I read it like “WE (Turbine) have plans to support the game for years to come, but it’s unknown whether or not WB will allow us to”. I haven’t bought any TP for some time and don’t plan on preordering Helm’s Deep until some concrete information comes out about a license extension. It’d be foolish in my mind to throw money at them when they don’t even seem sure themselves if the license will be extended.


  6. Bryandt Says:

    Let’s not get too harsh on Sapience. I imagine he only said what he could say and nothing more. If I was in his position, I wouldn’t have said anything different. It would have been bad for business.

    That being said, I honestly think that as long as there’s money to be made, the game will be around. The real question is whether or not there’s going to be a graphics overhaul again if/when the license is extended. Consoles are moving into their next generation and I imagine coming along with that will be another leap forward in graphics cards and DirectX.


    • Avatar of Goldenstar
      Goldenstar Says:

      I don’t think I was hard on Sapience at all. The response is quoted as his but like I said, it sounds to me like something he was given to communicate. The message itself is what I found odd and in question, not who said it.


      • Bryandt Says:

        Sorry, GS. I wasn’t directing that specifically at you or anyone in particular. Just years on the internet have shown that some folks like to shoot the messenger. ;)


  7. Rufusstan Says:

    I’ve a similar feeling about Q16. The problem with such a carefully worded answer is that it immediately makes you wonder why.

    The two reasons that come to mind are: that license or not, someone in the organization is stopping guys like Sapience making any specific future commitments, or the statements are vague because the situation has not been resolved yet.

    Neither option automatically means its all doom and gloom, but are not particularly reassuring either.


  8. Artie Says:

    What caught me was the “We plan to support LOTRO for many more years to come.”

    “Support” not “Develop”

    There are many a dead game out there that isn’t updating (not on a grand scale) and still around as the devs move on to other things. I fear this is the dance around LOTRO just did.

    Hope I am wrong, I just know how this PR thing works and I saw no true answer there at all, just spin.


  9. Groo Says:

    FYI, This was posted by Sapience further down in the forum thread that contains the 20 questions.

    “It a very straight forward answer. We can neither support nor develop the game without a license. We will be doing so for many more years. Not a single bit of vagueness there.”

    So, it sounds like they are unable to talk about the details of the contract, but he is trying to let people know that Turbine will be developing the game for “many more years”.

    The original answer could have been clearer, but really, there is no right answer to this question. If a physical year (for example 2016) is given, then doom and gloom will be reported due to the fact that an end date is set in stone. If vagueness is given, then doom and gloom will be reported because the license isn’t secured.

    I’m content with the follow up response from Sapience though and will enjoy the game for the foreseeable future. I have a feeling the code/program side of LOTRO will give out before the license does.


  10. susan Says:

    meh, I think they will have renewal rights in time so that is not going to be a problem. What will be the problem is how long they extended the rights, I don’t see them continuing development for this game for the long run as its market share is dropping.

    Its an old game and looks it. What I do see them doing is making a whole new game with a modern game engine to appeal to a new market. I bet they are trying to work those rights out now, with an option to continue lotr as it stands for another year.

    Lotr is full of bugs, glitches, problems, idiotic game mechanisms (like one mail at a time thing for ex.) and lag and I dont think they can do much about it or else they would have.


  11. Couillon Says:

    I’m pretty exasperated with the PR speak and ambiguity regarding Turbines response to Q16. And this Q and A format doesn’t lend itself to an honest discussion and engagement with the community. The candy jar question just boggles me, why would turbine hand pick this question…is the community really inquiring about his candy jar? A format I’d rather see..Turbine engaging in “live” discussions via reddit or hopping on Twitchtv, just 2 examples. The candy jar question would be welcome in a live setting but don’t hand pick it to fill in 20 questions.


  12. Julkoy Says:

    I honestly did not like those answers. And Sapience in certain answers in the forum displeased me.
    I played for many years, but after Moria, not seen bigger expectations.
    Isengard came not excited me much, in fact, for a short space of time pleased (and Angmar is the best one for “tenebrous area”.
    Rohan then… I enjoyed the new riding, the songs, but I’ve been frustrated by buy the largest package.
    I felt I did the discoveries of places very quickly. The beginning of the epic was good as always, but after amorna and gets boring.
    I don’t want the bad of LotRO, but seeing him decline so, addition to his players are changing too, makes me sad.
    What I want most is to see Minas Tirith, if so possible one day.


  13. Julkoy Says:

    but after amorna and gets boring.

    sorry my mistake, amorna = tepefy.


  14. Ilse Says:

    I think the answer about the license could have been made clearer, but at the same time I do see why they can’t do that. Like Joshua already pointed out:
    Nobody else talks about their license status unless something actually changes. Why should Turbine be any different?
    I hope the license renewal won’t be a problem. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there, won’t we?

    As for the rest of the Q & A, from a developing POV I found the questions about the art and other developing things very itneresting. But that’s probably because I’m developing a game myself.

    The whole candy jar was vague to me. I agree with people who were wondering why this question was even picked. Or is it some kind of vague reference to the Lottery? Handing out candy = handing out presents in the lottery?

    I was disappointed to hear they won’t do anything with the music system yet. I had hoped they would improve the music in a way it could also be something for the hobbies. The only hobby we now have is fishing. I would like to see more hobbies.

    I’m in total agreement with Goldenstar about the mail system. Being able to mail multiple items a once would be so much more conveniently! Perhaps we should start a petition to make this happen? After all, in trades we can give several items at once, why could such a system not be implemented in the mail?

    Although the Q & A’s aren’t always logical or satisfying, I am looking forward to the next Q & A.



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