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2015 plans for the game

Po_ggPo_gg Member RarePosts: 4,761

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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(editing on my part, obviously, for easier read image)

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...

Comments

  • ReizlaReizla Member RarePosts: 4,079
    As long as there's no news from either WB/Turbine or the Middle Earth company, I would not keep your hopes up. Keep in mind that the license was given till 2013 (2014?) with an expansion of 2 years to renew it. And so far I haven't hear a word from either of the parties involved. I fear the license for LotRo is not (yet) renewed because if it was it'd be big news...

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  • AthisarAthisar Member UncommonPosts: 666

    As regards Mithril coins, she said "Yes, one of the top priorities in improving the transfer system is making sure that account level purchases like Mithril coins could transfer from server to server with you". From the general tone it seems that pretty much everything will transfer, and people will have a choice of which server to go to rather than it being a merge. While there may be some issues with name conflicts (especially if entire kinships want to transfer together), it sounds like it'll be more than reasonable.

    There's no doubt that having fewer and more populated servers is a good thing overall. Some people won't like it, but Turbine can't run servers for individuals.

  • AthisarAthisar Member UncommonPosts: 666
    Originally posted by Reizla
    As long as there's no news from either WB/Turbine or the Middle Earth company, I would not keep your hopes up. Keep in mind that the license was given till 2013 (2014?) with an expansion of 2 years to renew it. And so far I haven't hear a word from either of the parties involved. I fear the license for LotRo is not (yet) renewed because if it was it'd be big news...

    I don't follow. This is news direct from Turbine. Also the licence was renewed last year to 2017.

  • Po_ggPo_gg Member RarePosts: 4,761
    Originally posted by Athisar

    As regards Mithril coins, she said "Yes, one of the top priorities in improving the transfer system is making sure that account level purchases like Mithril coins could transfer from server to server with you".

    Yep, that's the priority, but being the priority doesn't guarantee anything... currently the transfer is leaving plenty of things behind, not only MC (which is maybe the biggest issue since that's "real money") but skirm currency, housing items, shared wardrobe and shared storage, lots of unique items, kinship items, destiny (ok, that's worthless anyways), and some pvp stuff too (also worthless, at least to me :) ).

    And why is this important, well, because yesterday there was an Athena post in which she confirmed the "forced" part of the transfers:

     

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    I'll clarify a couple things here without going into details that are still being worked out.

    There will be no forced data merge from one server to another, or to combine two servers. When/ if players move, they will make the choice themselves of which of the available worlds they want to move each of their characters and account or kinship to. Yes, we are likely to close a number of servers to play, but only after a large grace period and even after that the characters will remain available to be moved to another server to play on indefinitely. We have an idea of the servers we will wish to keep and which to close, but that list is not yet set in stone and may be subject to change as we see the results of transfers and some of the hardware investigation we are doing.

    Also it appears I may have posted some incorrect info yesterday. We may not be able to allow EU <-> US transfers due to data concerns that remain from prior merges. But we are looking into it to see if any of our new tech might bridge that hurdle.

    Cross server play/ chat is something we looked into but was not feasible with the age of our code and sheer amount of character data that could conflict.

    -----

    (Highlight by me)

     

    So yep, on paper it's a free, optional transfer to anyone. BUT if you don't move, they will close the server beneath you anyways... so for the folks who like the more quiet world, there's only two options, quit or go onto a more populated world. (and of course those who paid hundreds of bucks for moving onto a quiet server, like Wof's kin on the forum, well, Turbine says "tough luck fellas". And that tough luck comes without a refund of course)

     

    Don't get me wrong, it won't affect me personally (*), I'm only lamenting because I think it will harm the game pretty badly. Yep, it may save a few bucks to WB on the short term, but on the long run it's a very bad move. There's a reason why this statement was the only solid point throughout these years "No server merges". The communities on the servers are one of the main assets of LotRO... seems the beancounters were louder this time.

     

    (*) not affecting me: because it will be most likely a US thing. Eu servers are coming back, and they stated there's no transfer option between the two realms, they're separate. Sure, they're "looking into it", but they were unable to solve it since the server move 3 years ago, so I guess, there will still be a separation when the sh*tstorm hits the fan.

    So, Eu and US have the same servers (14-15), but: frenchies have two, 1 roleplay and 1 normal. Most likely no close there. Germans have 6, 1 roleplay and 5 normal, all of those are pretty crowded and active, back in the Bounder's Bounty event they took the first 3-4 places among all the servers. Probably they will close the less active, but even that would count as medium pop over there at the US... And there's 6 english languaged servers, 1 roleplay, and 5 normal, 3 of them are crowded, maybe the other 2 should have some worries, but I personally have only a few characters there and only 1 house. Hopefully Turbine finds some solution to the house limit issues and also the character limit one before the transfers start...

    edit: and I don't have 18 characters on US combined, so no problems there for me. Though a few have the same names, that could be a problem, and I have houses on 2. We'll see I guess, Brandy and Landroval will be fine, not sure about Nimrodel, I have a few there as well.

     

    edit 2.0, someone (not official) posted over there the login %s of the US servers. Crick is the recommended server now, that's why the large share of the logins.

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    Crickhollow 20%
    Brandywine 15%
    Gladden 11%
    Arkenstone 6%
    Landroval 5%
    Silverlode 5%
    Meneldor 5%

    Dwarrowdelf 4%
    Elendilmir 4%
    FireFoot 4%
    Imladris 4%
    Vilya 4%

    Nimrodel 3%
    Riddermark 3%
    Windfola 3%


    NOTE: Percentages do not add up to 100% due to rounding.

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    seems I'll have some issues with my Nimrodel toons...

  • Broken.ArrowBroken.Arrow Member UncommonPosts: 84
    Originally posted by Po_gg

     

    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).

    I guess it is time to start taking screenshots and FRAPS and whatnot. Because the last time they Officially said that a new PvMP map was incoming, they not only failed to deliver what was promised in the pre-order teaser but later pulled a full 180° and pretty much called the players a liar when they asked Turbine what happened to the new PvMP map. And not to forget, they edited out any previous mention about the PvMP map and started closing threads regarding the con left, right and center on the old forums.

    They lost me as a customer when they pulled that bait and swtich bullshit, as I really did not expect Turbine to fall as low as some of the other unscrupulous developers to fail to deliver on advertised content and then blatantly lie about it.

     

    And I had always read on the LotRO forums (mostly from players, but some even from blue names like Sapience) that server mergers in this game were impossible, simply due to the housing locations..and kins...and names and all of those messy details that merging servers are involved with. And not the least of all, the server ambiance. As many LotRO players are usually a different bunch who either dont like large population servers or non-RP servers or both or neither...just a little more selective than players from other MMOs, or so as I have seen and understood, merging servers might put some players off from the game for good.

    But now if they are forced to merge, against all previous mentioned reasoning and after waiting This long...I guess tidings are grim at LotRO offices. Although I feel that having more cross server instances/layers or localized maps might be a better call, which will basically not force players to huddle or adapt to change, it remains to be seen what approach they will finally take. 

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    A proud User of [[Adblock Plus]], to block out all the bullshit paid advertisements (also read as "game reviews") spam on mmorpg.com. 

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    I was banned for pointing out the obvious faults in a game 2 months before it released.
    Now after release, repeating the very same words from back then would be like preaching to the choir on this site.
  • Po_ggPo_gg Member RarePosts: 4,761
    Originally posted by Broken.Arrow
     

    I guess it is time to start taking screenshots and FRAPS and whatnot.

    I took some already (though not because of the PvMP, I'm not much into that), I like to keep proofs :) I have a shot of Patience's the store will have only convenience items, not advantage post, just like Joel's post about TSW will never have lockbox-like stuff (and the followup where they are explaining how Mystery boxes are not lockboxes, lol). People used to say that everything you once put on the net will stay there forever, while it's not entirely true, that's why it's good to keep backup ;)

    Originally posted by Broken.Arrow

    And I had always read on the LotRO forums (mostly from players, but some even from blue names like Sapience) that server mergers in this game were impossible, simply due to the housing locations..and kins...and names and all of those messy details that merging servers are involved with. And not the least of all, the server ambiance. 

    Exactly, they've stated it countless times. That's why I wrote above

    Originally posted by Po_gg

    There's a reason why this statement was the only solid point throughout these years "No server merges".

    And in fact there won't be merges, that's the sneaky part of it. A merge would be still tough, or close to impossible, due to the issues you wrote too. But they "cleverly" found a shortcut... There's the transfer process in game, true, it's not very good, leaving everything behind which could cause trouble with a merge (houses, kinship names and status, unique items, etc). That's the price the player pays (above the 20 bucks) for transferring his/her character to greener pastures.

    So, now they're saying, free transfer to everyone! and we're looking into fixing the process for you'll be able to do it as little loss as possible (though we're not promising anything). It's optional, too, we're not forcing you onto other servers, nope sir.

    ("only" there's a fineprint, that they will close a few servers after the transfers are over). But it's true, this is not a merge. /sarcasm

  • Lord.BachusLord.Bachus Member RarePosts: 9,637

    biggest worry for the server transfers, is that currently healthy population servers will get overpopulated after the transfers..

     

    Thats why i think server migrations and combining is in general a much stronger move them allowing random server transfers..

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  • ReizlaReizla Member RarePosts: 4,079
    Originally posted by Athisar
    Originally posted by Reizla
    As long as there's no news from either WB/Turbine or the Middle Earth company, I would not keep your hopes up. Keep in mind that the license was given till 2013 (2014?) with an expansion of 2 years to renew it. And so far I haven't hear a word from either of the parties involved. I fear the license for LotRo is not (yet) renewed because if it was it'd be big news...

    I don't follow. This is news direct from Turbine. Also the licence was renewed last year to 2017.

    Must have missed that news then (and yes, I did search for it). But anyway, LotRo is kinda destroyed with the whole F2P formula. Even for me as a life-time sub I have to 'pay' to get certain things from the item store. With that, the whole Mithril Coin thing it starts to feel more like P2W than it did before.

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  • Po_ggPo_gg Member RarePosts: 4,761
    Originally posted by Reizla
    Originally posted by Athisar
     

    I don't follow. This is news direct from Turbine. Also the licence was renewed last year to 2017.

    Must have missed that news then (and yes, I did search for it). But anyway, LotRo is kinda destroyed with the whole F2P formula. Even for me as a life-time sub I have to 'pay' to get certain things from the item store. With that, the whole Mithril Coin thing it starts to feel more like P2W than it did before.

    Yep, license is not an issue until the late 2016 when they need to start the new negotiations I think. This year could've been a smooth ride - if not this transfer / closeup issue. I'd much rather discuss Osgiliath or Minas Tirith or the planned episodic content throughout the year, but (for obvious reasons) everyone is discussing the future of the servers instead...

     

    As a lifer you have only convenience stuff in the store (except the expansions and the beorning), and you get a monthly stipend exactly for that reason. I don't like the MC either, but it's pay-to-being-lazy instead of pay-to-win :) And you can get MC from your stipend too.

  • Dan2607Dan2607 Member UncommonPosts: 35

    Server merges and new group content ...great.

    New 3 and 6 man instances, please also let them scale up the originals to 100.

    Maybe our kin will also resurrect, cos it was one of the funnest games ever.

    Total focus on solo lost me, but looks like I'll be going back.

    *where did I put that ring*

  • AthisarAthisar Member UncommonPosts: 666

    I think a server reduction is what the game desperately needs. There's a very vocal minority on the forums who are absolutely against any kind of merges or reductions, but that doesn't represent the entire playerbase, or those who would return or join the game.

    As things stand there are many, many servers with low to medium populations, some exceptionally low. In such a large game it's making lower level group content almost impossible to get, leaving the auction house barren, and that's driving people away.

    While I have sympathy for some people who've been with the game for years and don't want to change server (if even necessary), they can't expect Turbine to run the same set up for 7 years going on indefinitely. Things change for lots of reasons and people have to adapt.

    A smaller number of servers together with new hardware and new connectivity is likely to see big gains in performance. I don't see this as cutting back on costs, I see it as trying to improve the experience for the majority of players.

  • MorlewenMorlewen Member UncommonPosts: 45
    The "Episodic Content" sounds very similar to the LW concept from GW2.
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