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So, in case you missed it ( /chuckle at Suzie ) Rowan has sailed to the West (onto a new project at Turbine) so LotRO has a new producer, Athena from DDO.
She posted her first producer letter yesterday https://www.lotro.com/en/game/articles/2015-producers-letter and while it has nice plans in it, some issues (like the music system changes, or housing) are not mentioned. But the part which generated the most replies was the Server population part. Not the Eu servers moving back to us, that's a good thing, rather those few words of "we’re taking measures to get everyone onto the more populous servers". That sounds very much like a forced merger of lower pop servers...
Anyhow, for those who doesn't want to read all the threads over there, here's a copy of her official replies so far onto the raised questions and concerns:
Group Instances in Osgiliath: We are specifically referring to a cluster of instance content for 3 & 6 man fellowships that is neither a Big Battle or a Raid. We evaluate the type of content we build with each region for what is appropriate and feasible. So we might do a raid again some day, but Osgiliath is not the time to do it.
Osgiliath PvMP map: This will be a different "layer" to the map. This way players will be able to explore Osgiliath in PvE mode in Update 16 and the goal is to then also provide a PvMP version shortly thereafter (not on the same release date).
Music: We currently have our sound engineers looking into the issues with the newer version of the music system that we pulled out late last year. Our hopes is that we can have it fixed with or next update, but I am still awaiting implementation and testing of the fixes to see if they are affective. Once we have it in we will of course be placing it on Bullroarer so we can get feedback before it is released. More info once I have it.
EU Servers: This will simply be a move of the physical servers to Amsterdam. The service will still remain in the hands of Turbine, so we will all still have the same downtime, updates, etc in sync with one another. Better location and newer hardware should result in better performance all around.
Server Populations: We are still working through the details, but part of our efforts here are to make the transition as seamless as possible for Kinship leaders to keep the players together. The idea is to bring you together, not spread further apart. This effort also includes upgraded hardware and a move to a better location for internet traffic for the US servers. This is a large and complicated process which I am fully focused on. More details on this in the coming weeks as more of the timelines and tech solidify.
The Server moves will be started with a listing of preferred servers, their new locations and an opening of free transfers to the servers. None of this will be limited by EU or NA. You can play on whichever server you like on the preferred server list regardless of where you might physically be located. We are working on some tech that will make transfers smoother and more beneficial which is why this has not yet begun. More info as we get closer to that.
I know that many are worries about Server transfers. It is a scary thing to have to change a much settled in environment. This is why there will be many articles, announcements, communication and requests for feedback before anything actually happens. The goal is to be able to give you the ability to move to a more populous and stable environment of your choosing (EU or NA), with your friends and kinships, and the things you have acquired over the years with as little loss, downtime or hassle as possible.
Level Cap increases: Not in the cards for this year
Group & Solo content: Both of these styles of play are very important to the development team, so there is never an intention to only do one for the foreseeable future. In fact, just the opposite. We are constantly trying to balance the availability of play for all styles of adventure. Just because one update has group content in it, does not mean that it will not also have content that is solo-able or that the next update wont fit that bill. I personally, due to the random times I have to jump in and out of game, tend to be a solo player, so I would hate to see that option go away.
Minas Tirith: will not be an expansion. It will be another large regional update slated for the second half of the year.
Itemization: We are constantly looking into ways to improve itemization. I wont jump into that heavily because it is very detail specific and is better handled by the developers working directly on it. As we get closer to the Osgiliath release you should see Dev Diaries and posts outlining the specific design ideas and asking for feedback.
Release Schedule: We are looking at 2 major region releases for the year. Osgiliath in the Spring and Minas Tirith in the Fall. Between those releases will be smaller updates with other features, fixes, etc. I do not believe in assigning or announcing dates on updates until we are nearing a completed state as that impedes the opportunity to make corrections based on feedback or testing. This is why I also dont talk in details about things you might not see for a couple months or more, because details change.
(editing on my part, obviously, for easier read )
So, I'm happy with Osgiliath, Minas Tirith, the absence of level cap raise, and that we're getting back our servers (with better hardware too).
And also I'm very concerned about this possible merger... what about kins, houses, multiple alts with the same name on different servers, mark/medallion/seal balance, mithril coins, etc... what about those who like the quieter servers, what about the items long gone from the game (and probably couldn't transfer over), etc... That's why I bolded the with as little loss, ... as possible. part above, what about those who don't want any loss at all, just continue playing on their servers they play since 7 years? I guess we'll see in the following months...