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Dadi's interview audio and notes


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here is the transcript for those that cant get to the site

Question 1:  Cordovan, you are serving as the interim LOTRO Community Manager and the full time DDO CM; is there any news as to whether or not you will remain split between the two games?

Cordovan:  I do not get to decide the terms of my employment, but I think for the foreseeable future I will remain the CM for both games.

Question 2:  Tell us a bit about the Executive Producer and their vision for LOTRO [at this point of the interview I did not realize that Severlin was with us – ed.]?

Severlin:  My name is Rob and my forum name is Severlin.  I am the current EP for LOTRO and DDO.  Prior to DDO I was the EP for Asheron’s Call (another Turbine game).  I am a long time Tolkien fan.  I read Lord of the Rings in high school and fell in love …

Question 3:  We have seen a lot of cuts being made by Warner Brothers, and by the way, that is not unusual for a video game of this age; but there is a licensing agreement that will be expiring in 2017 (this is public knowledge).  Is there anything that you may be able to say as the new EP to quiet some of the “doomsayers”?  There is an awful lot of negativity on the forums and other internet media about the future of LOTRO.  Is there anything that you could share to ally the fear that LOTRO is coming to an end next year?

Severlin:  Sure.  Right now we have a two and a half year plan [taking us in to the end of 2018 -ed.], and the only reason it is not further is because we want to see where the player’s heads are at after that much time.  We are currently focused on not only telling the Epic Story leading up to the Gate but also what happens beyond.  We have already kind of hinted to the players that an expansion is on its way.  I do not want to talk too much about the expansion because we are still far enough away that plans may change and ultimately we do not want to disappoint the community.  This is one of the reasons we don’t like to talk about things too far in advance; not because we do not have long term plans.  We want to tell the epic story, and we all know Mordor is coming … We want the experience to satisfy not only the story buffs, but also the experience of entering Mordor really epic because it is something other than the two Halflings, something we did not see much of.

Dadi:  We certainly appreciate the Epic Story being told in this game, I have to say that I have been pretty blown away by the last two releases.  I believe Made of Lions was behind that, is this correct?

Made of Lions:  That’s me, here I am ?

Dadi:  Well again, thank you.  It truly has been epic and enjoyable to play.

MoL:  Thank you so much, but you haven’t seen anything yet … I am super excited about the things we are coming up to.  We do not try to rest on our laurels, we are always thinking about the next thing; I am very excited for what that is going to be.

Cordovan:  I would like to chime in on the licensing thing too, it is something that comes up on the forums quite a bit.  What we do with LOTRO is not particularly different from other video games that operate under a licensing agreement for intellectual property (ex. super hero games, etc.).  They all have license holders and LOTRO is no different.  Typically these kind of agreements are pieces of business that are not really disclosed to the public.  As part of the corporate business decision making that is involved with the creation [and maintenance -ed.] of a game like LOTRO.  The LOTRO community has historically had some particular sensitivity over the licensing agreement, but the agreement itself has basically always been a routine piece of business from the very start.  So while we can understand that some folks like to talk about it on the forums and as you said; “doom say”, the reality is that it is just a private piece of business that has been routine (lawyers getting together).  Ultimately if there was a major issue with the license you guys would probably find out about it because the game would no longer be operating after a certain point.  This is not a reality show “are they going to get kicked off the island” thing worth speculating month after month, year after year.  It is basically just a routine piece of business and we have no reason to think this won’t be a continuation of that.

Dadi:  That is certainly very refreshing to hear, I am in corporate business myself and certainly understand licensing agreements and how they work.  Just because it is expiring does not mean that it will not be renewed.  As long as both parties are happy with the product being put forth [and the terms -ed] there is no reason for that licensing agreement not to continue, so it is nice to hear you say the same.

Question 4:  This is probably a burning question for most players; where are we with improving the lag and the performance of the servers?  It seems that since the consolidation, or the release of Minas Tirith (or maybe they are linked) [is where it all started -ed.].  There are many players, myself included, that have awesome gaming machines with fiber optic connections, yet in group play (specific instances) the only way to play the content is on the absolute lowest graphics settings with virtually everything turned off, and even then we are still crashing or experiencing major skill lag and very low fps.  Can you maybe touch on where we are at with it, I know you are continually working on trying to improve it but we are now six, almost eight months later and we really have not seen a dramatic improvement.

Dr.Octothorpe?:  So what is sort of unfortunate about some of the lag that some of our players have seen is that there is not a single source for it.  It is a many headed beast that basically means we have to keep hacking heads off as we can find them.  So we have been working very hard at this on and off.  With the 18.2.4 release we know that the pre-battle Minas Tirith has memory issues for many players so we have provided ways to skip it and travel directly to the post battle version.  One of the ironies with the performance issues is that players with the higher end machines will actually be the ones to specifically see some of those MT focused ones.  As you know there are some skill related ones, some group related issues, we keep hammering at all of them and hope that players have seen improvements where we have been able to make them.  This isn’t really a fix, but as we move farther from the old version of Minas Tirith we expect some of those problems to fade away simply because players are not all in that area anymore.

Severlin:  When you see large bosses and people are looking at their buffs [and debufs -ed.] there seems to be some sort of bottleneck there and so we are looking to bring in extra engineering resources to look at that specifically.  Unfortunately right now we are in negotiations to do that so we will have to wait; it is something that takes longer that I would like.

Dadi:  We have this absolutely fantastic content in the new raid; I love The Throne of the Dread Terror from start to finish (the mechanics, the difficulty, the challenge) … it is awesome.  However, there are so many players that just can’t experience it because of the lag and it is such a shame.  Is there no way to move the instance for Throne and place it in the background on another section of LOTRO so that it is not on the same section as Minas Tirith?  Can it not be separated such that it has more resources for it in itself?

Severlin:  Minas Tirith is not a server issue, it is a [LOTRO -ed.] client memory issue.  The lag you are seeing from the raid is not associated with Minas Tirith, it is something separate that we are actively working on solving.

Dadi:  I would imagine a lot of it has to do with skill animations, is that what is playing in to the majority of the [raid -ed.] lag?

Dr.Octothorpe:  We can’t stress enough how lag problems are like 100 headed hydras.  Everyone wants to look for a silver bullet to solve lag problems but unfortunately it just isn’t that way.  Among other things there are skills on classes that target absolutely everything within a 15m radius instead of a specific number of targets.  We corrected one of those [RK – Essay of Exaltation -ed.], which I think was causing more problems with festivals actually than with the raid.  So we deal with those as we find them.

Question 5:  Keeping with the raid, as you know there is a bug that is spreading T2 locks amongst T1 players which is affecting the group dynamics of who signs up (or come on) runs.  They do not want to get the locks by running T1 because they want to do T2 with their friends or kin later.  The result is there are a lot less T1 runs being done.  We are on update 4 now since the release of the raid and we have heard no discussion on addressing it, can you touch on that?

Dr.Octothorpe:  Yes, we are aware of it and it pains us that it keeps players from enjoying the raid.  It is unfortunately not a small feature, so we have been looking for a moment when we can dig in and fix it.  We hope this will be soon, but we can’t make any promises.

Severlin:  It actually has a lot to do with how loot is distributed.  When we looked in to fixing the lock issue, we wanted to go to a boss by boss lock where you could just loot each boss once.  So you could kill a boss multiple times but only allow you to loot once.  The problem with that is it would force us to go to a personal loot system and there was some concern when we went to do that that the players who were used to the current system would have a problem with a personal loot system because you can’t trade; a raid can’t sort of stack specific items on to people.  So the issue wasn’t actually the tech, it was the concern that the players themselves would find that a personal loot system, a system that drops loot from boss to boss for specific players would be a backstab.  That was our concern; and when we realized we did not have time before the raid [release -ed.] to go through the process of bringing that to the Palantir players and discussing the differences between how loot currently works and how loot would work in the new system (going through all the nuance of it) and then getting them to give us feedback on it is a process that would take months just to get the players’ input from the raiding guilds.  We just ran out of time.  Believe me, we wanted to fix these problems before the raid [release -ed.] but we didn’t want the players to see a new raid and be used to looting one way and then change it on them.  We just did not have the time to go through a due diligence process and throwing something like that on the players without a lot of feedback from the people who are raiding, would have been a bad idea on our part.  We just did not feel the players would have appreciated us throwing that on them without enough time and feedback for us to polish it.

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well, at least they acknowledge it instead of saying "it's your computer/connection" and go on as if there is no problem. Too bad they are making another expansion, those aren't buyable ingame for my free lifetime points I think ;)

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3 hours ago, Thrabath said:

Maybe my memory isn't very good anymore, or it isn't possible directly/ you have to buy the separate parts separately or something like that

I don't think you could pre-order with Turbine Points, maybe that's what you're thinking of?  

On Tuesday, August 30, 2016 at 4:11 AM, Papi said:

some of what was said in that interview had me shaking my head...specifically their approach to "fixing" the performance issues in MT....the fact that they knew the raid was messed up but released it anyway

 

/shrug

Yeah, those two things stood out to me as well.

It's almost like they don't think they're ever going to get new customers who will be hitting the problems in MT as they level - it's all "eh, we already got your money, just suck it up.  And be sure to buy the new expansion to get into the next part of the story, it'll be great, we promise!".

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Cordovan: [...] Ultimately if there was a major issue with the license you guys would probably find out about it because the game would no longer be operating after a certain point.

Did he just directly say that a missing license will not be announced at all until the expiration hits the game?

 

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5 hours ago, Spiteful said:

At the very least, he directly implied it. 

What assholes.

Kind of glad I got banned from their forum for asking about the license. I'm not touching that game with a 10-foot pole.

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I expect the next expansion will probably not be purchasable using TP initially. 

Regarding the license, the question does still remain if it isn't renewed for LOTRO then who will it go to? Why would someone actively be developing a LOTR online game without the license? Conversely, is someone was interested in developing a LOTR online game it'll take at least 4 years to get it to a state it is releasable. No point in LOTRO not having the license during the development period of a new title... If LOTRO were to be shut down I'd expect a scenario like star wars galaxies and ToR where galaxies was shutdown just before ToR came online. As there are not even any rumours of a new LOTR online game I don't envisage there being an problems with LOTRO remiaining running. 

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3 hours ago, FundinStrongarm said:

I'd be far far more worried about gameplay or lag issues than the license. I see little reason it wouldn't continue.

this^^ and unfortunately they seem more interested in pushing out new (buggy) content than they do fully addressing those performance issues.

but i get where Darmokk is coming from...and let's face it, isn't that how Turbine operates?  didn't they announce there wouldn't be an EU data-center a few days before the whole thing was about to go live (even though they knew about it months before)? 

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A loss of license can have different consequences:

- instant game shutdown is only one

- no new content allowed but game can continue as-is (I don't think anybody would care about bugfixes, including Turbine who probably wouldn't care about making some)

- loss of some content or some mechanisms that offend the property owners. Such as the gambling for real-world money, which is in LOTRO for years

 

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I predict that the License will be renewed based on the fact that Tolkien Enterprises likes more money.

 

Lawsuit will be settled at some point, most likely. WB/Tolkien Enterprises aren't going to give up the license and the potential it has for making them greenbacks and the Tolkien Estate aren't going to be able to keep paying for Lawyers in perpetuity(as it'll keep dragging out)so they will accept a settlement at some point.

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There's not going to be another LotR MMO. The MMO industry is in definite decline, and the IP's peak in popularity has passed. There were other factors at play that made the prospect of a second Star Wars MMO look appealing: SWG was handled poorly, and people like to forget that it was a huge deal that BioWare(the RPG powerhouse that made KOTOR I & II) was making their first foray into the MMO genre.

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Just now, Longbottom Leaf said:

1. The MMO industry is in definite decline...

2. and the IP's peak in popularity has passed. 

1. I'd like to see the numbers to back that statement up, because I would say the opposite (at the very least, it is running along at a steady pace given the number of new games that have come out in the past year).

2. I would agree with this, but it's worth pointing out that Turbine is probably one of the worst at promoting their own game (and subsequently, their primary money maker).  

 

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22 hours ago, LordVorontur said:

I predict that the License will be renewed based on the fact that Tolkien Enterprises likes more money.

 

Lawsuit will be settled at some point, most likely. WB/Tolkien Enterprises aren't going to give up the license and the potential it has for making them greenbacks and the Tolkien Estate aren't going to be able to keep paying for Lawyers in perpetuity(as it'll keep dragging out)so they will accept a settlement at some point.

Well, the Estate is saying that Tolkien Enterprises is not allowed to give out licenses for non-physical games. How greedy TE is is not the issue here.

I don't think you can simply litigate the Estate out of money, or into a settlement.

The length of this ongoing issue I see as indicator that the Estate is *not* willing to back down, on whatever primary concern they have. It is entirely possible that they are not primarily aiming at money. WB treats their intellectual property like shit and at least Christopher cares about that.

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I love LotR blablabla, but LotR story is very limited; the elven/dorf stuff is all over fantasy worlds. Another LotR mmo? no way until VR or better experience. It's like making a second Titanic movie. Right now, for a company it would be most succesful to do a Witcher/GoT mmo than LotR 2. If any LotR game (not Shadow of Mordor hybrid) is released in the next 2-5 years, it should be a 2D isometric, like PoE (Pillars of Eternity).

 

 

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On 9/1/2016 at 7:17 PM, Papi said:

1. I'd like to see the numbers to back that statement up, because I would say the opposite (at the very least, it is running along at a steady pace given the number of new games that have come out in the past year).

2. I would agree with this, but it's worth pointing out that Turbine is probably one of the worst at promoting their own game (and subsequently, their primary money maker).  

 

I don't have empirical data to show, but it's quite evident nonetheless, IMO. Most of the big IPs have been tried. Most of the successful MMOs are getting long in the tooth. There aren't any "big"* MMOs currently in development, and none based on an established IP- at least none that I'm aware of. The industry is mostly focused on retaining customers in the games that already do exist. It should be telling that the investor class has finally stopped trying to fund the mythical "WoW Killer"- that boat has clearly sailed.

* Subjective, but I doubt that Crowfall is going to be the next ESO.

16 hours ago, Trisswyn said:

I love LotR blablabla, but LotR story is very limited; the elven/dorf stuff is all over fantasy worlds. Another LotR mmo? no way until VR or better experience. It's like making a second Titanic movie. Right now, for a company it would be most succesful to do a Witcher/GoT mmo than LotR 2. If any LotR game (not Shadow of Mordor hybrid) is released in the next 2-5 years, it should be a 2D isometric, like PoE (Pillars of Eternity).

If your go-to example for 2D Isometric is PoE, then I feel that it's my duty to pimp the Baldur's Gate & Icewind Dale games to you. :*

 

 

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