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Lord of the Rings Online

LotRO players host Winterstock II music festival

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Events (In-Game), Free-to-Play, Music

Lord of the Rings Online is well-known for its player bands that take advantage of the in-game instruments, and this weekend you can hear a lot of musical acts with the return of the Winterstock player festival.

Hosted by the Lonely Mountain Band kinship, Winterstock II will feature 31 bands playing over the course of four days from January 16th through the 19th. All shows will be set near Thorin's Gate on the Landroval server. There's a schedule posted on the forums, and if you really want to get into the swing of things, you can listen to the official Winterstock II theme song.

The Road to Mordor: Ten thoughts on LotRO's 2015 plans

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Road to Mordor

This year I'm breaking my long-running tradition of posting a "wish list" for Lord of the Rings Online at the beginning of the new year. This is partially because I'll be in danger of repeating the same old items that I've been yammering on about for quite some time now, and partially because Turbine was on the ball and released a producer's letter this past week that lays out some of the year's plans (by contrast, last year the studio waited until the end of February to do the same).

Tradition be hanged! Let's adapt with the events and spend some time evaluating the information we've been given! There's a lot going on in and around this producer's letter, so here are 10 thoughts that I'm taking away from all of this in regard to LotRO's future.

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LOTRO maps out 2015, vows to address server populations [Update]

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Bugs, Patches, Free-to-Play

Lord of the Rings Online has a new head honcho, as former Executive Producer Aaron Campbell has transferred to "a new project" at Turbine. Stepping into his shoes will be former DDO Franchise Director Athena Peters.

Peters delivered her 2015 producer's letter today with six major initiatives for the first half of the year. These include improvements to legendary items, new fellowship challenges, a possible new PvMP map in Osgiliath, and quality of life fixes. She said that the team will also be delivering episodic content during the year: "We are currently in development on a new type of quest content that will roll out like an episodic TV show, a little at a time, as you follow a new friend across Middle-earth seeing familiar places in a new light." Server merges of a sort are also in the works: "We're taking measures to get everyone onto the more populous servers, so that finding parties is easier and festivals and live events are more fun. We are working on both improved server transfer tools and upgrades to our environments to improve playability. Also we will be moving our European servers back to the EU!"

In other LotRO news, an exploit that allowed players to create an overpowered character in the game has been addressed and fixed in a patch that went out earlier today. The hotfix puts level restrictions on a slew of reputation items so that players cannot use them at a lower level and gain access to gated vendor items before the devs intended.

Update: Peters penned a follow-up post to clarify certain items in the producer's letter.

One Shots: Pumpkin rider

Screenshots, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, One Shots, Miscellaneous

What better way to usher in the new year than to take a look back at Halloween? OK, so I'm still catching up on all of the terrific player-submitted screenshots in our email, but we're getting closer than ever! In any case, I would not want to let this gourd-headed hero go unnoticed.

Reader JohnD is the man behind the mask: "Here is Frani, my level 29 Hunter celebrating the Harvest Festival in Lord of the Rings Online. She got the mount, clothes, and pumpkin mask all this season. Fun time was had by all."

Want to be featured in a future edition of One Shots? Send your favorite MMO screenshots to oneshots@massively.com, and don't forget to include your name, the name of the game, and a description of the scene. Large, colorful, UI-free shots that tell a story and really show off the game make for the best images. Look ma, we brought back One Shots!

LotRO cracks down on superman exploit

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Bugs, Free-to-Play, Legal

An exploit that is allowing Lord of the Rings Online players to super-charge their toons is on the end of a stern warning by Turbine today. The studio says that it has already banned and will continue to ban accounts seen using this deliberate loophole.

"It has come to our attention that some players have been utilizing an exploit to change how powerful their characters are in the game world," the studio posted today. "Upon receiving reports of the issue we began an investigation. Due to the way our log system works we can definitively detect every account that is taking advantage of this exploit."

Turbine is currently working on a fix for the problem.

[Thanks to Superswim for the tip!]

Global Chat: Die, DPS meters, die!

EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Opinion, Global Chat, Miscellaneous, HEX, Skyforge

Hey you! Yes, you! Are you sick of damage meters ruining your life? Do you rebel against the virtual man by questioning such long-established gaming tropes as levels? Then have we got the column for you!

In our last community blog round-up of the year, we've collected some fine pieces of discussion, debate, and introspection -- not to mention a first impression or two to tide you over until 2015. We've also got an essay about the joy of healing, what it's like to play an MMO as a bear, going back to the Isle of Refuge, and more!

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LotRO patch nerfs essences, adds group Pelargir epic battle

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Patches, Free-to-Play, Dungeons

A small but significant patch hit the Lord of the Rings Online servers last week, bringing with it a new fellowship-size version of the Retaking Pelargir epic battle. This version comes with additional secondary missions and tougher elite mobs (naturally). Also, the team announced that, "Aragorn's voice can FINALLY be heard summoning the dead to fulfill their oaths."

Update 15.1 also nerfed essences by only allowing one of each type to be equipped at a time, as multiple copies were deemed too powerful and an obvious threat to Sauron's dominance over Middle-earth. Also, Beornings got a bear-load of tweaks, as well as the permission to use the "-beorn" suffix with names.

Professor to hold open course in Lord of the Rings Online, asks for bodyguards

Fantasy, Video, Lord of the Rings Online, Lore, Free-to-Play, Livestream

Dr. Corey Olsen, better known as Washington College's Tolkien Professor, will be holding an open course in Lord of the Rings Online for any and all who would like to understand the lore of the books by exploring the game.

The course will take place on the Landroval server. Here, Olsen (who has a mid-level Guardian) will go through the epic storyline, explore the areas, and compare those to passages from Tolkien's writings. He asked for players to help fight off mobs during his explorations so that he will be free to examine and lecture without distraction.

Olsen's teachings will initially be livestreamed on LotRO's official Twitch channel, although the course will be recorded for viewing later on as well. No dates for the course have been set as of yet.

[Thanks to Braxwolf for the tip!]

Chance Thomas announces official end to his LOTRO score

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, Music

chance thomas
While the Lord of the Rings Online score will go on, Chance Thomas' contributions to it will not be a part of the future of the game. The composer announced that despite personal and fan efforts to bring him back, Turbine has declined to use him for future releases, citing tight resources.

"Looks like we've come to the end of an era," Thomas wrote on a Facebook post. "I need to thank you for your remarkable support over the years. I'm not sure a composer could have a better playground than Middle-earth, or a more gracious community to share it with."

Thomas composed the music for the base game as well as the Mines of Moria and Riders of Rohan expansions. He recently contributed to the score of Dota 2.

Turbine's customer support department spreads holiday cheer

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, News Items, Free-to-Play, Promotions

The players that the team disliked were mailed images of rats being dropped from the tops of stairwells.
Working customer support for an MMO means that even the best times of your job are still spent dealing with upset players. Sure, the player might recognize that whatever went wrong was just an accident or a bug, but you've still got player issues to manage. It's the sort of work that can make you bitter or cynical, but not so with the customer support team at Turbine Entertainment, which decided to reach out to fans in a slightly happier fashion with holiday cards. Seriously. Real ones.

Players on the Lord of the Rings Online forums have reported receiving physical holiday cards from the game's customer service department with hand-written messages and gift cards for 500 Turbine points inside. The community team has stated that this is exactly what it seems to be: a random gesture of kindness and appreciation for the game's playerbase. That message also reminded players to keep their mailing addresses up to date, as this is unlikely to be the only such event.

[Thanks to Fredelas for the tip!]

LotRO begins testing fellowship version of Pelargir epic battle

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Patches, Previews, Free-to-Play, Dungeons

The newest epic battle added to Lord of the Rings Online in Update 15 is about to get even bigger. Retaking Pelargir, the offensive-focused battle, was initially released in a solo/duo version, but testing has begun on a fellowship version.

This change will come with Update 15.1, according to the preliminary patch notes: "A fellowship version of Retaking Pelargir is now ready for limited release on Bullroarer, where we'll be taking important balance feedback from preview players. The timing of its release will depend on the feedback we get about this new version."

Update 15.1 will also contain plenty of tweaks and bug fixes for the Beorning class as well as allow players to track nearby quests inside of structures.

Turbine pledges to act on LotRO player event griefing

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Free-to-Play, Legal

Concern over trolls disrupting and griefing player-run events in Lord of the Rings Online has been hitting our inboxes here at Massively, which is why it's good to see Turbine take an official position today against such griefing in the future.

According to a post on the forums, the studio will be "making a concerted effort" to combat trolls and encourage the continuation of player-run events. GMs pledged to take action on help tickets as well as monitor such events as they occur, but said that it will limit such policing efforts to stage areas only.

"We know that players moving throughout the performance area on mounts can be particularly frustrating and distracting," the studio said. "To combat this problem we're looking into what options are available to help combat this behavior in designated performance (stage) areas. We'll also be removing players who are mounted from the stage area manually in the meantime."

[Thanks to George for the tip!]

Warner Bros. plans more layoffs through early 2015

Dungeons and Dragons Online, Lord of the Rings Online, MMO Industry, Legal, Miscellaneous, Infinite Crisis

warner bros
The rocky situation for Warner Bros. is far from over. Game Informer is reporting that the conglomerate is planning more layoffs through "most business groups" starting this week and going through early 2015. Variety says that up to 1,000 employees from TV, film, and other divisions will be let go from the cuts.

This report stems from a staff memo that discusses this internal, company-wide restructuring. While Turbine was not specifically mentioned, there is concern following the recent bout of layoffs that hit the Lord of the Rings Online developer.

LotRO's Update 15 goes live with the Beorning class

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Classes, Patches, Free-to-Play

Lord of the Rings Online has given the go for Update 15, which is currently live on the servers.

Update 15's centerpiece is the addition of the Beorning class, a "skin-changer" that transforms between human and bear form for a variety of attacks. The update also adds a tutorial zone for the Beornings, four regions of Central Gondor, a new book of the epic story, and the epic battle of Pelargir. Another change is that new free players will have to wait for three hours to use the world chat channel and any other user-created chat channels.

You can read up on Update 15 with Massively's hands-on of the Beorning and our recent dev tour, as well as the official patch notes.

The Road to Mordor: A dev tour of LotRO's Update 15

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Patches, Previews, Free-to-Play, The Road to Mordor

Bear with us folks, there are going to be a lot of unintentional puns in the column this week. Perhaps we have ursines on the mind lately since Lord of the Rings Online is on the cusp of rolling out its first new class in several years. Amazingly enough, the Beorning class isn't the beginning and end of next Wednesday's Update 15; it's merely one of several bullet points punctuating this meaty content release.

I sat down with the developers at Turbine this past week to get a tour of Update 15 and ask my usual barrage of questions like, "You promised quarterly updates for 2014, but by my count we're going to end up with only three. What's up with that?" Executive Producer Aaron Campbell said that while this was true, he thinks Turbine did a great job getting out regular updates and has some "really big set pieces" for next year. It sounds as though Turbine's distancing itself from a quarterly schedule to a more flexible plan that allows for maximum polish and quality.

But next year will take care of itself, so I hunkered down to focus on the last big update of 2014. What will Update 15 add to LotRO and who at Turbine thought it was a good idea to put the power of honey creation and bee attacks in the hands of players?

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