Lords of the Rings Online: Siege of Mirkwood Interview

Turbine, Inc. recently release an expansion pack for Lord of the Rings Online titled Siege of Mirkwood. The staff at Turbine, Inc. was generous enough as to grant us an interview about the game. A special thank you to Aaron Campbell, Live Producer of Lord of the Rings Online, who answered our questions! For more information about the game, you can go here.

Congratulations on the recent release of the Siege of Mirkwood Expansion pack. When adding content onto Lord of the Rings Online, it’s a great responsibility to keep the lore and world of Middle Earth true to how JRR Tolkien created it. How does your team deal with that responsibility, and what do you do to make sure that everything translates smoothly from the books into your game?

We spend a great deal of time and care both designing and building Middle-earth.  We work closely with Middle-earth Enterprises to make sure we get all our facts straight and recreate the world a faithfully as possible.  We have two Tolkien Lore experts on staff that pour over countless material for every scrap of data to help in this process.  When information is lacking we try to interpret as best we can based on supporting information and working within the well-established themes of Tolkien’s world.

For those who are unfamiliar with the expansion pack, could you give more details about the skirmish mode and customizable soldiers?

Skirmishes provide a new kind of experience for players.  These are story instances that take place in familiar places in Middle-earth.  You can do them solo, or you can join a party of varying size – small fellowship all the way to a raid group, and enter into a battle of the War of the Ring and acquire “skirmish marks”.  These marks are a kind of money that can be spent of new rewards and equipment for your main characters, or can be spent to configure and advance a personal soldier you can bring into skirmish battles with you.  Additionally, skirmishes have a number of key features we think players will really love:

•     Every Skirmish scales in three different directions: Group size (solo through raid), level (30 to 70), and difficulty tier. Players are can directly set those three factors on every Skirmish… each time they play one!

•     Utilizing a new feature called Skirmish Join, players from all over Middle-Earth can come together in Fellowships and instantly play any Skirmish. There is zero travel time involved!

•     Skirmishes are designed to be completed within twenty to forty minutes, with raids taking about an hour. This allows anyone to jump on during lunch, between quests, or while waiting for friends, and have a meaningful story driven play session that provides concrete advancement and most importantly, fun!

•     While playing Skirmishes each player can call upon the aid of one soldier ally. Players can customize their soldiers by selecting and upgrading their behaviors, skills, abilities and appearance.

•     Every time you play through a skirmish things will change. The enemies you are fighting will be in different locations, use different tactics, be at different strengths and numbers, or be entirely different types of monsters.

Skirmishes build upon the successful story driven experience LOTRO is known for, and through several axis of scaling, instant access from anywhere in the world, bite size play lengths, a customizable and upgradable Soldier Ally, and randomness and unpredictability create a brand new style of instance that players of all skills levels and play styles can enjoy and have a fun, rewarding, high quality, Lord of the Rings gameplay experience.

What do you have planned next for Lord of the Rings Online?

We aren’t currently talking a lot of specifics regarding our 2010 and future plans, but players can expect the things they know and love to continue: more Middle-earth, more Instance Clusters, more Skirmishes, a continued improvement in older systems and the solo-ability of the game, new and improved Festivals, and an interesting and compelling Epic storyline.  Additionally we have some really cool new features up our sleeves.  Stay tuned for more information on that in the coming months!

Will you be holding any in-game events these first few weeks of release to celebrate the expansion pack?

Generally speaking stability is our primary concern in the immediate weeks after the launch of any update.  We want to make sure the playing experience is as rock solid as we can possibly make it.  After that players can expect a number of cool additions to hit with the Yule Festival this year starting on December 15th (US date).  We really want to make sure that our four primary festivals get solid updates each year and always have something new and fun for the players to enjoy.  This year we’ve added a cool “bar fight” style event where players can playfully bop each other around as well as revamped horse races!  Players can look forward to an in-game mail detailing how to participate in these Yule Festival events.

With the MMORPG market becoming increasingly populated, what do you think sets your game apart from the competitors?

Well, basically to keep doing what we do best!  No one puts out quality content updates like Turbine.  We’ve been doing it for over 10 years now for Asheron’s Call and we continue that great tradition with Dungeons and Dragons Online and The Lord of the Rings Online.  We will continue to put out high quality updates and do our best to listen to what our players want.  We know players have a limited amount of time to dedicate to our games and that their time is very valuable to them.  We don’t want to emulate other games, we want to set our own tone and make other games chase us rather than the other way around.  We’ve recently seen other games introduce features very similar to ours which is both very flattering and tells us we are getting things right!

Article from Gamersyndrome.com

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