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Aaron Campbell's Producer's Letter (U14)

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Hello all! I’m Aaron “Rowan” Campbell, Executive Producer of The Lord of the Rings Online.

 

Update 14 launched today, and with it our story enters the kingdom of Gondor. You can get much more detail in the U14 patch notes. With this letter, I’ll give you an update on our commitments for 2014 and how LOTRO is meeting those goals.

 

To start, the checklist for U14:

Paths of the Dead and Dol Amroth: Three new questing areas, a five level cap increase and the city of Dol Amroth. Volume 4 of the Epic Story begins. Both Dol Amroth and the Epic Story include opportunities for small fellowship (group) challenges. Check!

Dead Marshes: An interlude (session play) experience will launch between U14 and U15. Check!

 

And some new features for U14:

 

Epic Battles: Strong abilities now come earlier in the trait tree, so you can be effective much more quickly. We’ve rebalanced some secondary objectives for solo players. Watch out, monsters will now focus their attacks on you if you pull their aggression!

 

Essence System: This update introduces new customizable equipment. Armor with open sockets will be available through random drops and some quests. Fill these sockets with appropriate essences to match the attributes you desire.

 

Still to come this year:

Central Gondor and Pelargir: Our third update of the year will take you through lands occupied by the Haradrim*, to the great port of Pelargir on the delta of Anduin. Join the Army of the Dead to defeat the Corsairs of Umbar!

Beorning: The Beorning class is well into alpha playtesting, and is shaping up for later this year. Expect the new class to be available for test and feedback after the Dead Marshes update has gone live.

 

Changes from the plan:

 

We’ve been making changes based on your feedback. First, we no longer plan to raise the level cap a second time this year. You clearly said that you want the time to invest in your characters and your gear, and we’re listening.

 

Second, we’re adding a new system of advancement to your legendary item. At level 100, you’ll be able to take a legendary item and specify it as “imbued”, locking in its current legacies and abilities. From this moment forward the item will earn experience (even through future level caps) but not require you to deconstruct it to attain a new item. Our goal is to take the early promise of an item that “grows with you” and fulfill that.

 

Third, the Beorning class will start at Level 1 (rather than Level 50). The class will be able to level fully through the early areas of Eriador, and will include its own starting experience.

 

There are many other areas that we continue to maintain and develop, such as combat balance and PvMP. As always, your feedback is essential to getting it right.

Rowan

*No Oliphaunts available. They were too large to put on the ships.

 

Got to say... I'm underwhelmed.

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First, we no longer plan to raise the level cap a second time this year. You clearly said that you want the time to invest in your characters and your gear, and we’re listening.

 

That's a mistake to be honest, there is fuck all else to do anymore but level. Not sure why we need time to invest in our characters when there is nothing to invest in them for.

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So 6 years after LIs were first released they are finally going to make good on the promise that they will grow with you, but at the same time this will only happen from level 100 and since they are canning the second level rise this year really means nothing.

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Second, we’re adding a new system of advancement to your legendary item. At level 100, you’ll be able to take a legendary item and specify it as “imbued”, locking in its current legacies and abilities. From this moment forward the item will earn experience (even through future level caps) but not require you to deconstruct it to attain a new item. Our goal is to take the early promise of an item that “grows with you” and fulfill that.

 

Oh, that's only 5-6 years too late.

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That's a mistake to be honest, there is fuck all else to do anymore but level. Not sure why we need time to invest in our characters when there is nothing to invest in them for.

 

Yeah, and leveling is a good motivation to play through the content...

 

Though on the flip side of the coin... There's 100 levels in the game. That's a shit ton of levels to gain for new players. And since their releasing a new class...

 

I honestly don't know what the right move is now for level cap increases.

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That's a mistake to be honest, there is fuck all else to do anymore but level. Not sure why we need time to invest in our characters when there is nothing to invest in them for.

 

I agree with that. Leveling, to me, created a feeling of progression. On my alts I only ever did the miniumum content needed to get them to cap. I never saw the point in doing content if the XP wasn't needed. I only did every area on my main for completions sake. 

 

The letter is so underwhelming yep and the LI change, whilst welcome (if I was still playing) seems half-hearted  Its probably the best they could do without spending much time on it. 

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I honestly don't know what the right move is now for level cap increases.

With the LI news some of the pain of a level cap increase has vanished. The big complaint about level cap increases was having to re-work your LIs every time. Given that this has gone I think I would prefer to have the level cap increase and have at least some motivation to quest through the new content.

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If they were really 'listening' they wouldnt have started development of the new class and instead focused the time on some lair raids or instances.

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I don't know what the "imbued" legendary and "locked in" will be about.

How often have they tinkered with or removed legacies?

How often have they turned the Warden upside down and backwards?

 

Legacy "Fart in your general direction" becomes "fart in opposite direction" becomes "fart in all directions" becomes "cough while politely covering you mouth"...

 

From that one line comment it doesn't seem to me they are making the Legendary what my idea of a Legendary should be... could be wrong though...

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Soooo...LI can finally grow with you....sorta....at lvl 100....which is the last cap for this year. Huh?

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Amusing.  The change in LI's is something that won't be noticed until there is a level cap increase beyond 100.  And with the withdrawal of the second level cap increase...and the fact that it doesn't start UNTIL level 100... they don't really have to do anything with them until 2015 sometime when they plan a new level increase.

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Amusing.  The change in LI's is something that won't be noticed until there is a level cap increase beyond 100.  And with the withdrawal of the second level cap increase...and the fact that it doesn't start UNTIL level 100... they don't really have to do anything with them until 2015 sometime when they plan a new level increase.

 

Yeah, my brain crashes on that logic, especially with the very specific reasoning given in the Letter about hating to invest in gear once again.

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It's interesting in that thread to see a lot of people praising the LI and Beorning change but most seem ambivalent or even uninterested about the level cap change. Perhaps I missed it but I don't remember a huge uprising requesting the level cap increase be dropped?

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It's interesting in that thread to see a lot of people praising the LI and Beorning change but most seem ambivalent or even uninterested about the level cap change. Perhaps I missed it but I don't remember a huge uprising requesting the level cap increase be dropped?

 

Huge is a big word considering the current audience of LotrO, but there were many people whining about it on OF and throwing arguments like "you're only giving us double level caps because you can then sell more LI crystals in your bloody Store".

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He could have saved himself the trouble of writing that letter.

 

 

And the main chorus now has become 'thank you for listening to your player base'? - that actually upsets my stomach.

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Amusing.  The change in LI's is something that won't be noticed until there is a level cap increase beyond 100.  And with the withdrawal of the second level cap increase...and the fact that it doesn't start UNTIL level 100... they don't really have to do anything with them until 2015 sometime when they plan a new level increase.

 

LIs will finally grow with you once you hit level 100!  "Yay!"

 

You won't have to level past 100 for the rest of the year!  <crickets> "Wat?"

 

/facepalm

 

Maybe they don't trust themselves to do the LI changes without screwing them up, so they cancelled the increase to 105 for the time being to give them time to figure it out?

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Huge is a big word considering the current audience of LotrO, but there were many people whining about it on OF and throwing arguments like "you're only giving us double level caps because you can then sell more LI crystals in your bloody Store".

Indeed, but the LI argument is removed with the changes to LIs. It appears that "we're listening" doesn't actually mean "we understand". The level cap increase was an issue for most because of LIs. So basically U15 will contain a new region with;

  • No reason to upgrade LIs
  • No new levels to gain
  • No new instance cluster
  • New Epic Battles that are widely disliked

Don't get me wrong, I like the LI change but it also removes one element of character advancement from the game. Are essences the replacement?

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"Join the Army of the Dead to defeat the Corsairs of Umbar!"

"The Beorning class is well into alpha playtesting, and is shaping up for later this year. Expect the new class to be available for test and feedback after the Dead Marshes update has gone live."

 

Those two entries have so much potential for total lore breaking that it's at least going to be fun to watch.

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So this was the producers letter that was supposed to be so exciting and please the "majority"?

So halting the level increase to people can invest in gear: WHAT THE HELL FOR? You removed anything worth gearing up for!! Seriously!

And now, so many years later after you've pissed off so many people and they've left, NOW you'll change LIs. I guess you're not getting loads of revenue from raiders anymore who would buy legacies and scrolls in the store or whatnot as they tiered up their weapons, hmmmmmm? You've no longer a crowd to milk regarding that, so now you'll change it.

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Indeed, but the LI argument is removed with the changes to LIs. It appears that "we're listening" doesn't actually mean "we understand". The level cap increase was an issue for most because of LIs. So basically U15 will contain a new region with;

  • No reason to upgrade LIs
  • No new levels to gain
  • No new instance cluster
  • New Epic Battles that are widely disliked

Don't get me wrong, I like the LI change but it also removes one element of character advancement from the game. Are essences the replacement?

 

Well, I think the issue here is that the players didn't know they'd ever implement that LI feature and reacted from that perspective. They were 5-6 years late with that feature after all, you'd be a fool to hope it'd ever come.

 

But yeh, Turbine is indeed showing they're listening but not understanding.

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Well.. Certainly underwhelming. But I do have to say, finally fixing LI's, well, better late than never I guess. Also Beornings starting at level 1, that's the way it should've been from the start, so glad they actually came to their senses on that one.

 

Other than that, not much content in that letter, a bit like the current endgame.

 

There are many other areas that we continue to maintain and develop, such as combat balance and PvMP. As always, your feedback is essential to getting it right.

 

Where's that feedback supposed to go? Any proper feedback on the OF just gets removed...

 

I'm actually glad they're not raising the level cap anymore. If there's no endgame planned, there's no reason to raise the cap, if all I'm gonna do is quest and grind reputation, I don't need new levels for it...

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Heh, how long till my wife gets banned.

 

https://www.lotro.com/forums/showthread.php?552273-A-Letter-From-Executive-Producer-Aaron-Campbell-July-2014&p=7201066#post7201066

 

 

Dear Rowan, 

While your “State of the game” address is appreciated to keep players apprised of what they will see with the new update (which is covered in the patch notes) and Turbine/WB’s “commitments” for 2014 is appreciated as a ideal, unfortunately, based on the State of the Game addresses previous to this (not necessarily by you), I personally cannot accept you at your word. 
LotRO still delivers beautiful graphics with Tolkien’s epic tale, and has made what I consider to be breakthroughs in game play (specifically skirmishes, scalable to size of party). Turbine/WB has also made promises that it is now unable or unwilling to follow through on.
I understand that new housing would have been a massive undertaking, and possibly an extremely costly undertaking, designed to cater to the desires of a small portion of the gaming community. I understand the same argument can be made for end-game content as well, like instances, raids and skirmishes. That doesn’t change to the fact that we were told these things were coming, and they are not.
What is now being created is an endless gear grind, and player’s will forever be stretching to eek out those 5 additional dps, or 12 additional morale, both of which are pretty irrelevant for landscape play and, in the end, irrelevant for outdated, outmoded and overplayed endgame content of which will no longer be updated.
Thank you, but no. I am getting off the hamster wheel. I will ride with the fellowship to ensure Frodo makes it Mordor, but no longer will I perform petty tasks for squabbling masses in exchange for worn out robes or ugly hats. I will no longer fight the same 35(ish) bosses for gear I am already wearing or have already outgrown. I will no longer roll alts to travel in and perform the same tasks repeatedly knowing that when I hit the end (level cap) that the REAL grind begins. 
The only part of this game that is not replaceable by another game is the people I play with, my kin, and those people have become so dear to my heart that our kinship has evolved outside of the LotRO servers. They are the only motivation I have to even log in, and then mostly to use the chat function, and on a rare occasion, help someone out with a particularly difficult task, (because they all have multiple alts running the same quests/instances/skirmishes that they rarely NEED help).
Sincerely, 
Verizamour
Irony and Spite, Landroval

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Allow me to offer an alternate view for the abandoning of the second level cap rise, perhaps the new zones just dont contain enough content to fill five levels as they are too small. 

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Allow me to offer an alternate view for the abandoning of the second level cap rise, perhaps the new zones just dont contain enough content to fill five levels as they are too small. 

 

That's nothing that can't be handled with 10 random dailies and a huge Corsair boat pet.

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