The long awaited Producer’s Letter came out on the 27th of January, so some time ago, and we spoke a little about it here too. If by some very unlikely chance you did not read it, you can do that here. To be fair, after such tension about this letter we have had on the forums and everything that is happening this year (10th anniversary, Mordor, High Elves, new crafting instances, new concept – as far as we know – of the crafting instances, etc.) all of us expected at least a bit more.
So, we also tried to get an interview… Unfortunately we drew the short end of the stick in this one. Even though I would say the message was sent very much in time, which would be the first day of the BR 19.3 build, we have seen many interviews, streams and forum posts since then, every one revealing something new and some of those were the questions of our own. We have shared those interviews with you on our FaceBook page too. The SSG team was very busy, so we are basically repeating ourselves and the “news” may have lost its purpose. Not going to blame SSG, the High Elves and some other news have raised many questions and everyone was fighting for answers. Together with the transition and work on Mordor it was bound to tie the team down. In this article I would like to bring you the interview with Jerry “Cordovan” Snook and the team, laced with the information we had the opportunity to see by now.
First of all I’d like to congratulate SSG on some of the changes they have made. I was very sceptical about the premium housing and I must admit I wasn’t a big one to do the decorations in the old neighbourhood, but the new ones… Now this part of the game has become much more interesting and enjoyable for me. The area is a bit large compared to the old one, but both the interior and the exterior are great, love the indoor yard and a 1 minute travel skill. Speaking of which, I am still not certain if a 1 hour travel skill to the Premium Kinship house is intended or a bug.
LP: There is a mention of a High Elf. Is the High Elf only another race or is it also a playable class with different mechanics or even only origin? Would it be too early to elaborate on the race bonus difference from the “regular” elf?
Cordovan: High Elf will be a race, not a class. We do expect the classes available to the High Elf to be at least somewhat different from the regular Elf, though.
Ciccolini (MMO Central): The High Elf will have different racials. The High Elf… right now, the argument about different classes, I say they should be able to do anything. All the lore people look at me and say ‘not burglars’. But a High Elf captain is something they might be able to step up to because of their ancestry. That’s something that we’re looking at and we hope will pass through our lore review and I think that one of the things that we want to do is, we would like to be able to present an Elf that is animated and looks different. But the problem with changing the animations, the running/fighting animations, is that you don’t want to do that too much on existing Elves because it pulls the rug out from under the existing players. But the High Elf is an opportunity to maybe have a different set of animations that represents how they move, the flow of the ability for them to move with grace and fluidity, so we hope that they just feel different because how they run and how they fight will be different than the other types of Elves. As well as the class options, maybe some of the racial abilities, we want them to be balanced with the other races, but some of the racial abilities might be more… I don’t want to say fantastic, but might involve the Light rather than some of the other things you might have seen.
Cordovan (Forum): We do not have plans to add a new class with the High Elf.
LP: If High Elf is a new race with old playable classes people are already speculating what classes those would be. Any comment on that?
Cordovan (Forum): I realized I should clarify my earlier statement to say that we are not debuting a new class with the High-elf, although the list of classes High-elf can be is expected to be at least somewhat different from the current elf.
LP: Could it be possible to eventually pay for a race change? Would the mechanics of the game allow for such a service?
Cordovan: At this time we do not have plans to make a paid racial respec/change available. The mechanics of the game do not currently allow for it, so it would take a large amount of engineering and development time to make this a possibility.
Snook (MMO Central): I was talking to some of the LotRO team this morning about that particular question. The big challenge we have with, say, racial respeccing that we don’t have in Dungeons and Dragons Online is our races are limited in class options in Lord of the Rings Online. So that respeccing process has a layer of engineering work that’s required that makes it difficult to see us doing that for the High Elf here. Ultimately in terms of the name issue, we do have renaming options available, so someone could you know rename their regular Elf and then make a High Elf character for that. But for being able to respec from one race to another, it’s just not on our short-term agenda here.
Ciccolini (MMO Central): I don’t think that we’d be able to implement that in time for Mordor. Even if we started pursuing it today, that would be a tremendous amount of work and the LotRO tech for races is, it just doesn’t… it’s not set up to allow that. I mean, technically anything is possible in these games, but I don’t foresee us being able to do that for Mordor, and after that is, you know, is that what we want to be spending our precious engineering resource times on? Maybe? But it wouldn’t be, it won’t be for awhile, so I wouldn’t expect to have that for Mordor or shortly thereafter.
LP Palantir*: So, there is a possibility that High Elf will mostly be a cosmetic change, with different animations, racial skills and traits and wider class selection. Hopefully, these racials will be a reason enough, other than RolePlaying, to re-do a class you may already have just so it could be a High Elf. It is certainly hard to speculate on something that is as vague as a race, since it brings very little to the game for now – looks, racial traits and skills that make very little difference most of the time, if at all. It would be nice to see the races re-done that they do not need to earn reputation with themselves, especially in case of High Elves.
LP: What would you say to the people who would say that you’re adding a new race, but not fixing some of the existing ones? Then again, I’d guess making one is easier than finding the problems with the existing ones.
Cordovan: We will continue to work on quality of life improvements and bug fixes, both for races and for other areas of the game. If you have a particular issue with a bug involving a race, please let me know so I can dig into it further.
LP: Pledging the sword to Men, Dwarves, Elves or Hobbits… I find Hobbits there is a bit too much, since, if we look at the lore, only a handful of Hobbits has actually embarked on such an adventure and in general isn’t a “fighting race”. Is this planed to be something similar to Hytbold, giving you a race specific daily or another kind of bonuses for the choice? Will it impact the game in a way that the decision you make will determine the landscape or the outcome? Can a Man only pledge the sword to Men or to the others too?
Cordovan: Pledging your sword will be a part of the story line, and we do expect people to be able to pledge to multiple groups. While it might not make the most sense lore-wise, we understand that many players want to pledge to multiple groups, so we plan to support that.
Libby (MMO Central): These features will have storylines associated with them. I think that’s maybe as far as we probably want to say now.
Ciccolini (MMO Central): I can talk a little bit about the design behind that, if you don’t want to talk about specifics on revealing the secrets. So, originally, we were like ‘okay, you can only choose one’, because that makes sense. But as we went back and forth, we realized that even though we like to encourage alts and like to have players play through the storyline, there are hardcore LotRO players that are just gonna want to be able to play through this, all four of them, on their main character. They just will, because they want their main character to experience everything. But, there’s the issue of, well, if you’ve already pledged yourself to the Elves, the Dwarves might be grumpy about it and vice versa. So, what we’ll probably do is, what we’re planning on is, it’s meant for alts, but if your main character wants to do all four, you can, but for every additional one, it gets harder.
LP: I had personally expected to see some way of getting some of the rest of the golden jewelry in U19.3. You mentioned only 2 crafting instances in the stream. Usually there’s 3. Was that a mistake or will they be a bit more universal and since we have seen gold jewelry from flowers and raid, is crafting the next way of getting some of the jewelry done, since people have been asking for some update to it?
Cordovan: In Update 20 we will have two new resource dungeons, so the number is accurate. We’ll have more information about how they will be used in the future, but it is more story-specific rather than general in nature.
Cordovan (Forum): We are expecting to debut some new crafting recipes in Update 20 related to Reputation. Crafting level will not be going up, but we will be using some new ingredients.
LP Palantir: First I was guessing that SSG wouldn’t keep the rest of the jewelry for a full number update. For me it is somewhat illogical. But since the “new” crafting is coming in U20, we could say that with all our gear changed and upgraded one way or another the only things that we didn’t yet upgrade are: earrings, necklace, pocket, offhand. I would guess and hope that some kind of upgrade is going to be introduced for these items either through recipes or barter items similar to T2C raid armour. Speaking of which, I am aware that it is wishful thinking, but it would be nice to see the cloak upgraded too.
LP: LFF and Trade channel are becoming global. Does this mean that after the training of the GMs some of these channels will be moderated more?
Cordovan: Our in-game GM team will continue to monitor public channels for inappropriate content.
LP: Sometimes there are some “silent” changes happening that aren’t in any of the notes. Are these changes intentional or does something like that happen by adding code? For instance, the ground after boss 5 and before 6 in Throne has changed recently. Also recently, in Epic Battle Defence of Minas Tirith the first wave start has been pushed to start somewhat later. A while ago in Glittering Caves the spider queen was moved a bit back to not aggro with the smaller spiders in front of her. There are probably more examples. None of these were mentioned anywhere. Obviously, no dramatical changes, just curious if they are intentional.
Cordovan: Usually changes don’t make it into the notes because they weren’t specifically called out by the dev doing the work, so “some minor adjustments to Epic Battle Defence…” might be in the changelist, but not get called out specifically in the notes. Sometimes it’s a halo of a different change. Sometimes the changelist note was marked improperly (say, put into a past or future update in the notation of the changelist.)
LP: Was there any tought about the new essences? It is pretty hard to get them and that is fine, but once we want to change them they are either left for an eventual alt or just vendor them. Is there a possibility to add an option of refining the Tempered essences back to the wisps that you use to trade for them or is it your standpoint that you shouldn’t be able to sell those?
Cordovan: I don’t think we have any plans to adjust the new essences.
LP Palantir: I am unaware how one would measure the success of the new essences, I would guess through people buying solvents and crafting them, or rather the increase in sales of solvents, since the “old” T8 is still very good. If the new essences can not be a return investment many players will wait for the next one, with better and higher improvements – T9 maybe. About how small of an improvement the Ithilien Tempered essences offer, especially morale, we have wrote here. Since the Tempered essences can not be sold I have come across players who would rather have a wild essence, so they could sell the wisp, than the tempered one. Hopefully SSG will either unbind the essences or introduce a way to refine the Tempered ones back to wisps which can be sold.
In other news…
Steam Payment is again available (Forum) and the Update notes for U 19.3 can be found here. And you will also be getting a new mount as a gift if you are any kind of VIP or if you subscribe to become a VIP. More information here.
Cordovan (Forum): It seems that there is a “race condition” happening, which is a term for what order things happen as you log in. Depending on what loads first for you, people are either getting the horse automatically added to their skills, or they are getting an inventory item. Either way, though, people are getting it. What is happening is it is trying to apply it to your skill, but if that takes too long, it is instead delivering an item.
*LP Palantir is a lore apropriate crystal ball, it shows our estimates and guessing what may come.