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Lord of the Rings Online

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

lotro
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

lotro
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

lotro
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

lotro
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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Global Chat: Wrongs and rights

EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Opinion, Global Chat, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge, WildStar, Trove

trove
So often, bloggers are struggling to succinctly answer the same question in a variety of formats: What is right with this game and what is wrong with it? It gets complicated fast when biases, comparisons, and general drama enters into it, although I wouldn't have it any other way. MMOs should be filtered through our various viewpoints to gain broader understanding and (hopefully) provide better feedback.

This week in our journey around the blogosphere, we'll take a second look at Trove, see where ArcheAge messed up, and attempt to understand why PvP sandboxes will wither and die if they're not welcoming to carebears. What's wrong? What's right? That's up to them -- and you -- to decide!

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Lord of the Rings Online's Update 15 coming November 5th

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

lotro
On a developer call this afternoon, Turbine announced that Lord of the Rings Online's Update 15 is scheduled for release on Wednesday, November 5th.

Update 15 is a substantial content drop that includes the Beorning class, the continuation of the epic story, Central Gondor, and a new epic battle in the city of Pelargir. Massively recently featured a hands-on with the Beorning.

One Shots: Foot-in-Chest disease

Screenshots, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, One Shots, The Secret World, Humor, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge

tsw
I don't think a lot of us fantasize about the way that we're going to die. My philosophy is, if it must happen, it should be as cool as possible. I think that getting kicked off of the top of a speeding train after a penultimate boss fight would fit the bill. Of course, I'd probably rather be the one kicking than being kicked, especially if the kickee is a supernatural terrorist like this jerk.

Reader Jonathan shares our first screenshot of the week: "This is from the cutscene as I was finishing the Last Train to Cairo in The Secret World. I think it's a great action shot, even if you can't see my character's face."

Don't forget to do a proper Wilhelm scream, my friend! So what other gruesome fates await us in this collection of deadly images?

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LotRO's Fall Festival running through November 2

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, PvE

Lord of the Rings Online's Fall Festival starts today, and you've got until November 2nd to collect all the tokens, titles, outfits, mounts, and assorted other Middle-earth paraphernalia that shows up during Turbine's seasonal shindigs.

As always, Goldenstar has put together a comprehensive guide detailing how and where to get all the various knick-knacks as well as the new-for-2014 items.

LotRO's 'current plans' not impacted by latest layoffs

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play

Turbine's latest round of layoffs won't affect long-running fantasy MMORPG Lord of the Rings Online, according to community manager Andy Cataldo.

LotRO Players reports that Cataldo elaborated during a Twitch stream and said that the firings will have no effect on Turbine's current plans for the game. Cataldo did not reveal whether or not "current plans" refers to the game's pre-existing development roadmap or the plans that have already been shared with the community and which run through the end of 2014.

The Road to Mordor: Test driving LotRO's Beorning class

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Classes, Patches, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, The Road to Mordor

lotro
November 18th, 2008. That is the last time that Turbine added a new class (in that case, two) to Lord of the Rings Online. The last time, that is, until now in late 2014.

The Beorning is coming in with a similar level of anticipation and controversy that swirled around the Rune-keeper. There are folks excited about the possibilities of playing a skin-changer, and there are those hotly debating its lore qualifications. And if I have to hear "Beornings are a race, not a class" one more time, then I'll... get a free toaster. It turns out that Turbine has a clever response to that, by the way.

I'm on the "anticipation" side of things if only because I've been championing the addition of new classes to LotRO for years now. With the Beorning hitting the Bullroarer test server this past weekend, I knew that I had to get in and give the new class a quick test drive. So what did I discover?

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Warner Bros. confirms Turbine layoffs [Updated]

Asheron's Call, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Lord of the Rings Online, MMO Industry, Rumors, Miscellaneous

turbine
Turbine appears to be going through another round of layoffs that are possibly affecting the Lord of the Rings Online team, according to Twitter messages.

Former Community Manager Rick Heaton seemed to confirm this in a tweet sent earlier today: "Thinking of my friends at #Turbine and #LOTRO and elsewhere today. I'm easy to find if you need me."

Massively has reached out to the studio for an official comment.

[Update: Warner Bros. has confirmed unspecified layoffs by issuing the following statement to Massively: "As part of our normal business process, we're routinely looking at the strategic alignment of our company. Unfortunately, in order for us to invest in growth areas at Turbine, we have to eliminate some positions. These are always tough decisions, which we don't approach lightly, but it's crucial that Turbine is structured in a way that reflects the current and coming marketplace."]

These LotRO Update 15 vids are all about the Beorning

Fantasy, Video, Lord of the Rings Online, Classes, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, PvE

Ready for some more videos from Lord of the Rings Online's forthcoming Update 15? Unlike this morning's crop, these latest blurbs are all about the new Beorning class. Click past the cut for a look at character creation, the new Beorning starter area, and some level 50 combat.

[Thanks Joel!]

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Watch previews of LotRO's new Gondor zones and epic battle

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

lotro
Get out the popcorn or whatever snacking treat that the inhabitants of Middle-earth enjoy, for it's time to view the landscapes and conflicts of Lord of the Rings Online's Update 15.

LOTRO Players has put together several videos showcasing the new zones: Central Gondor, Lebennin, and Pelargir. There's also a film of the Pelargir epic battle, which the fansite says is a vast improvement from Helm's Deep: "Retaking Pelargir is the shot in the arm the epic battle system needs. It gives purpose to the system and has a clear and satisfying ending."

You can watch all four videos after the jump.

[Thanks to Joel for the tip!]

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