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A letter from Executive Producer Kate Paiz - Looking Ahead to 2014

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https://www.lotro.com/forums/showthread.php?&postid=7042572#post7042572

 

Hello!
The year is almost at an end -- and what a year it has been! Our sixth year was a very exciting one for us, and I wanted to take a moment to share some thoughts about 2013, and then, of course, talk about what’s coming up for 2014.
 
One thing I had hoped, when penning this letter last year, was that at the end of 2013 I would be able to write about the great changes we’d made to housing. But, as you are aware, we had to delay the bigger housing changes we have been working on to 2014. We had some very good discussions with the Player’s Council about what we should include in the housing revamp and there are a lot of excellent ideas out there. It takes time to develop those ideas into good, fun housing features, and while we could have rushed something out just to say we’d done it, instead we decided to take more time and make more meaningful changes. We will continue our conversation around housing with the Player’s Council, and I look forward to giving you an update later in 2014.
 
The release of Helm’s Deep was definitely a high point of the year for me! The new Epic Battles system allows us to explore momentous parts of the story and the Class Revamp gives us richer character development in the future. We know the class changes were dramatic, but we feel the game is in a much better state now because of them. Looking forward, balancing the class changes in both PvE and PvMP will be a focus for us, and Update 12.1 will be the first of many updates that address those balance concerns.
Another set of great moments in the year for me were when I got to meet with members of the Player’s Council and listen to their thoughts. We have a great group that has worked very hard to bring your concerns to our attention, make suggestions and provide invaluable feedback on a number of projects. I really appreciate their perspective and participation, and I thank them very much for sharing their time with us! At our last meeting, I discussed with them a broad outline of our plans for 2014 and I’d like to share that plan with all of you.
 
“Take a break from expansions”
We’ve heard a lot of you suggest we take a break from the annual expansion cycle, and we agree! We’d like to take the time to revisit some older systems, add more region content, and just generally have more Middle-earth to explore throughout the year. When the Players Council last visited, we asked them what they thought of a year that focused on more content and more opportunities to refine and improve existing systems. They echoed the sentiment we’d heard from many of you and were unanimous in their support. They were also very passionate on one point; VIPs should get this new content for free. (Again, we agree!)
 
More Content, More Often – Free for VIP.
In the past we’ve focused on yearly expansion packs that brought big changes and lots of new content at the end of the year coupled with smaller updates throughout the year and a new region in the spring. In 2014 we’re going to focus on a steady flow of content throughout the year. We’re planning on adding new content on a quarterly basis in 2014. Players have expressed a desire to explore a bit deeper into Fangorn Forest and to see Isengard flooded in the battle with the Ents. Both of these are slated for our first quarterly update in March.
Later in the year we’ll be seeing more iconic locales and moments from the lore including the Paths of the Dead and the Dead Marshes. We will also take our first steps in Gondor!
If you’re a VIP, these regions and content will all be free with your subscription.
 
Inventory and Bag Space
We know you can never have enough bag space when you’re out adventuring and inventory management and control can almost be its own mini-game at times. We think it’s time to take a new look at inventory in LOTRO and see where we can make improvements. Please share any thoughts you have on what works or what doesn’t work for you regarding inventory here <link>!
 
Festivals and Events
We’ll continue to develop our festivals, new and old, and add more events for you to participate in throughout the year. If there are any festivals or events you’d really like to see us build, please let us know on the forums! A thread for Festival suggestions is here <link>.
 
Housing
As I said earlier, Housing is still high on our list of objectives for the year, and the conversation thread can be found here <link>. We’ll be talking more about this throughout the year.
We are working on one more secret surprise, but I won’t do more than tease its existence now, other than to say that the class changes have made it possible for us to consider making a new addition to the game… which we will talk about later in the year.
 
I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday season, and I am so excited to start 2014 off strong and have another great year with you! I wish you all a Happy New Year and all the best in 2014.
 
See you in game!
Kate Paiz, Executive Producer, The Lord of the Rings Online 
 

 

 

 

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Interesting.

One more secret surprise, made possible by the class changes. A new addition to the game.

She's got to be talking about a new class here, or I'm shooting wide of the mark aimed for.

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Interesting.

One more secret surprise, made possible by the class changes. A new addition to the game.

She's got to be talking about a new class here, or I'm shooting wide of the mark aimed for.

That's the way I read it. If it's true, I'm really curious as to what they're thinking of. There's been a lot of debate about possible new classes and there's been some rather interesting ideas thrown out there.

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Hmmm... Lets see.

1. No new expansion.

Is this a product of there being a huge distance from Rohan to Gondor? Is it lack of funding? Is it lack of helms Deep Sales?

Either way, yet another example that expansions arent the kind of money makers that f2p bleeding is. If it made gobs of money they would make it.

I'm still not sure who would have said stop with the expansions....

 

2.   Fangorn Forest and to see Isengard flooded in the battle with the Ents.

I dont know that I wanted more Fangorn... I like the next idea a bit better, anything tied in with the books is good.

 

3.Paths of the Dead and the Dead Marshes. First steps in Gondor.

This is more where I was hoping things were going. I'm guessing that 2015 is Gondor proper.

 

4. Housing, scaled down and late.

Oh well theres always LOTRO2...

 

5. New class

Lets see if it is interesting or another nuking magic user.

 

Overall mood.... Meh

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No mention of the epic being free?

 

For Helm's Deep it was said the epic quests couldn't be separated from the expansion content because of Epic Battles.

 

But with the emphasis in this letter that the new regions and content are free for VIP (which is how non-expansion content has always been), it makes me think that the days of the epic quests being free are over.

 

And my feeling is that any other improvements to housing or inventory will probably have Mithril Coin costs attached to them, the way the housing storage upgrade did.

 

Overall, the message to "take a break from expansions" seems to have been translated into "nickel and dime the players in steady amounts over the year" instead of "spend time going back and fixing all the stuff you've broken over the years and have never gone back to first".

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Players have expressed a desire to explore a bit deeper into Fangorn Forest and to see Isengard flooded in the battle with the Ents. Both of these are slated for our first quarterly update in March.

Later in the year we’ll be seeing more iconic locales and moments from the lore including the Paths of the Dead and the Dead Marshes. We will also take our first steps in Gondor!

 

As a Tolkien fan, I can't help but get excited.. but I know I really shouldn't be.

 

I suppose there's still some part of me that desperately hopes the game could turn around into something I love again.

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Perhaps the lack of expansion is due to expansions not selling as well as Turbine would like so they sell the zones in parts hoping people will be happier to spend a few pounds here and there rather then £40 all at once at the end of the year. It also spreads their income over the year rather then all towards the last few months.

Not sure we need another class given all classes are now basically DPS classes. Perhaps some sort of melee healer where some damaging skills heal the other players

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“Take a break from expansions”

We’ve heard a lot of you suggest we take a break from the annual expansion cycle, and we agree! We’d like to take the time to revisit some older systems, add more region content, and just generally have more Middle-earth to explore throughout the year. When the Players Council last visited, we asked them what they thought of a year that focused on more content and more opportunities to refine and improve existing systems. They echoed the sentiment we’d heard from many of you and were unanimous in their support. They were also very passionate on one point; VIPs should get this new content for free. (Again, we agree!)

Something about this screams 'get-out-of-jail-for-free'. Why do they not want to make expansions? Why do they not want to charge £30 per person for some half-assed content? And why are they pushing this 'VIPs should get it free' point as if they're so considerate?

My guess is they can't afford to make any expansions. Not only that, they know most sane VIPs will buy expansions with accumulated TP, so making the content updates free to VIPs in no way harms them (in fact, it comes with the added benefit of VIPs not raging).

But it should be worth noting that they've made it obvious that they can't do both an expansion and content updates at the same time. It's now one or the other, so dwindling resources?

More Content, More Often – Free for VIP.

In the past we’ve focused on yearly expansion packs that brought big changes and lots of new content at the end of the year coupled with smaller updates throughout the year and a new region in the spring. In 2014 we’re going to focus on a steady flow of content throughout the year. We’re planning on adding new content on a quarterly basis in 2014. Players have expressed a desire to explore a bit deeper into Fangorn Forest and to see Isengard flooded in the battle with the Ents. Both of these are slated for our first quarterly update in March.

Later in the year we’ll be seeing more iconic locales and moments from the lore including the Paths of the Dead and the Dead Marshes. We will also take our first steps in Gondor!

If you’re a VIP, these regions and content will all be free with your subscription.

Ah, they're clever here with their wording. Notice that they don't state a steady flow of regions. They say content, which to them means anything and everything. They could simply give 4 shoddy book updates over the year and say it's content. They even consider scaling old content as content, so they've left themselves a lot of wiggle room. To the naive, Turbine have just said they're going to be giving them more content. Everyone else will notice they fail to specify what they mean by content.

Inventory and Bag Space

We know you can never have enough bag space when you’re out adventuring and inventory management and control can almost be its own mini-game at times. We think it’s time to take a new look at inventory in LOTRO and see where we can make improvements. Please share any thoughts you have on what works or what doesn’t work for you regarding inventory here <link>!

Oh god. Every time they've gone to 'improve' the storage systems, they've broken it. I liked being able to organise my items in whatever order and pattern I liked in the vault and housing chests. They screwed that. Now they're likely to screw the inventory system.

Not to mention the obvious extra monetisation they'll throw in to an already monetised system.

Festivals and Events

We’ll continue to develop our festivals, new and old, and add more events for you to participate in throughout the year. If there are any festivals or events you’d really like to see us build, please let us know on the forums! A thread for Festival suggestions is here <link>.

People are already bored of festivals. Every year it's the same old shit. I swear it seems like every damn time I log in there's some stupid quest wanting to port me back to Bree or the Shire.

Housing

As I said earlier, Housing is still high on our list of objectives for the year, and the conversation thread can be found here <link>. We’ll be talking more about this throughout the year.

Nothing but problems will come of this. My words. Mark them.

We are working on one more secret surprise, but I won’t do more than tease its existence now, other than to say that the class changes have made it possible for us to consider making a new addition to the game… which we will talk about later in the year.

Is it you're going to be the first married couple to walk on the surface of the sun? If not, then I can safely say this surprise will just be a disappointment. What's the betting they'll introduce 9 new classes, all of which require everyone to pay extra for, and they'll be the exact copies of what the classes used to be like?

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“Take a break from expansions”
We’ve heard a lot of you suggest we take a break from the annual expansion cycle, and we agree! We’d like to take the time to revisit some older systems, add more region content, and just generally have more Middle-earth to explore throughout the year.

 

So in other words: WB cut our money supply (again) and in 2014 we probably won't be able to provide any new group content at all.
 

Hope she's not telling us that they plan to revamp rift & carn dum. Don't get me wrong, this would get me back playing lotro in no time, but I fear that their new team who comes up with skills called "sic'em" will probably destroy these instances in no time.

 

 

We are working on one more secret surprise, but I won’t do more than tease its existence now, other than to say that the class changes have made it possible for us to consider making a new addition to the game…

 

I'll give them the benefit of the doubt here and say they will introduce "downscaling" and allow us to run group content on level. So a 95 guard entering vile maw would be a 58 guard with downscaled equipment. 

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Kate Piaz couldn't even produce her own letter, look at the last line "edited by sap". More fluff and bullshit incoming, she needs to crawl back from whence she came.

The official forums have many threads about raiders/instances etc and all have been totally ignored, but, the player council as its called get a pat on the back for their suggestions.

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They're clever, I will give them that. They've managed to twist what is a 'downgrade' promise into what seems to be a positive for players. Didn't they originally promise a content update every 3 months, with an expansion every year? Now they're just doing a content update in place of that expansion. They've actually swapped giving people an expansion for a much easier content update, meaning they don't need to work nearly as hard, and yet they've made it sound like they've done a good thing.

I haven't been on the official forums but I can imagine a lot of stupid people are lapping this up. Clever bastards. Very clever.

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It sounds encouraging. I really hope there will be some effort in fixing bugs now. Also, I hope "balancing" involves some nerfing all round so that play is challenging again. More content free to VIPs seems to be a firm undertaking too. I'll be eagerly awaiting housing revamp.

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I honestly think that a year between expansions is too hard on a development team (especially a smaller one like this) to output enough high quality content to satisfy players. So if this is now a two year cycle, hopefully that means that we'll see a some turn around on Turbine's end. Even if only by default by having more time to work on it.

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Hmmm... Lets see.

1. No new expansion.

Is this a product of there being a huge distance from Rohan to Gondor? Is it lack of funding? Is it lack of helms Deep Sales?

Either way, yet another example that expansions arent the kind of money makers that f2p bleeding is. If it made gobs of money they would make it.

I'm still not sure who would have said stop with the expansions....

 

That's easy: the people who can't seem to gain ten levels in the one year between expansions.

 

(Hey, that might be me this time(!), although not playing at all probably has something to do with that.)

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Ah, they're clever here with their wording. Notice that they don't state a steady flow of regions. They say content, which to them means anything and everything. They could simply give 4 shoddy book updates over the year and say it's content. They even consider scaling old content as content, so they've left themselves a lot of wiggle room. To the naive, Turbine have just said they're going to be giving them more content. Everyone else will notice they fail to specify what they mean by content.

 

This is what I thought too.  It could very well mean 1 region, and 3 "updates" to current systems for the entire year.

 

We'll have to wait and see.  The optimist in me thinks this could be a really good change in plans for LOTRO.  To get smaller updates (including new or revamped regions) along with bug fixes and other needed updates to the game for a year, and then a big expansion the next year.  Sounds good on paper.  Unfortunately, Turbine has disappointed on many promises that sounded good.

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Hmmm.. Am I the only one that sees this as paving the way for maintanence mode?

I think HD was the last 'expac' if I'm honest.

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This is what I thought too.  It could very well mean 1 region, and 3 "updates" to current systems for the entire year.

 

We'll have to wait and see.  The optimist in me thinks this could be a really good change in plans for LOTRO.  To get smaller updates (including new or revamped regions) along with bug fixes and other needed updates to the game for a year, and then a big expansion the next year.  Sounds good on paper.  Unfortunately, Turbine has disappointed on many promises that sounded good.

Not to mention, they have to survive with an ever decreasing player base for over a year without an expansion. If they can't even stop the numbers dropping WITH an expansion, what chances do they have without one? Last I looked, there were less players on all servers than there were on the US servers pre-merge alone. The lowest point yet.

 

Hmmm.. Am I the only one that sees this as paving the way for maintanence mode?

I think HD was the last 'expac' if I'm honest.

Exactly what I was thinking.

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Take a break from annual expansion cycle? That statement alone means she's a clueless quim. I don't know any gamer who would go for that. Everything else she says is more BS. Not developing means they aren't sure they will be allowed to create more, so there's some negative assessment from her own mouth indirectly referencing the lawsuit.

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So no more group content. No more expansion, and in 2014 one of the "updates" will be minor housing changes that are very expensive to access.

 

But at least we know it is the player council's and the players fault for this. They asked Turbine to do this (stop making expansion, stop making group content, and stop investing any real money in the game). Yeah this is all at the player's request.

 

Where another company fixes bugs and produces content that actually works, Turbine has decided getting content to work, or adding/improving small game features, means that they have to stop making expansions and stop producing group content.

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I think the "no expansion" might have more to do with the state of the license. We don't know *exactly* when the license expires - it could be January 31, 2014, June 30, 2014, or December 31, 2014...and WB/Turbine might not be willing to put any more effort into the game until they know more about the license. I've said it before, given what they've said about being allowed to keep Goblin Town in-game, despite giving up/losing the licence to the The Hobbit, they will likely be able to keep the game running without a license. Running, not developing.

 

Personally, I think WB is not going to negotiate an extension, and let LotRO fade into the west.

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Hmm. So they have released an expansion less than a month ago, and they have already released a statement a year ahead of schedule ruling out a similar expansion in 2014.

 

Turbine are many, many things, but pre-emptive is not one of them. They are hiding something.

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This is what I thought too.  It could very well mean 1 region, and 3 "updates" to current systems for the entire year.

 

We'll have to wait and see.  The optimist in me thinks this could be a really good change in plans for LOTRO.  To get smaller updates (including new or revamped regions) along with bug fixes and other needed updates to the game for a year, and then a big expansion the next year.  Sounds good on paper.  Unfortunately, Turbine has disappointed on many promises that sounded good.

 

They did not mention bug fixes specifically, which to me means that they don't plan to fix the long-standing bugs that have been introduced by expansions and new systems in the past. "Refine and improve" doesn't mean fix, in Turbine-speak.  To me it means "what else can we put in that we can charge for?"

 

I agree with Hajile, this is a "string-the-players-along" move that is most likely hiding something that will hit the fan in 2014.

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Let's look on the bright side, folks: in spite of the predictions of many of us (myself included, I think), Kate Paiz actually put out another producer's letter!

 

I hope she rewards herself for her hard work by taking some time off work, sitting back with a box of white zinfandel, and watching some reality TV.

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Let's look on the bright side, folks: in spite of the predictions of many of us (myself included, I think), Kate Paiz actually put out another producer's letter!

 

I hope she rewards herself for her hard work by taking some time off work, sitting back with a box of white zinfandel, and watching some reality TV.

It wasn't entirely her fault she had a long time off. It's just that the Paiz's bred *shudder*, so she was on maternity leave. Though I thought her kind laid eggs? Maybe she needed to wait around to incubate them?

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