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Lord of the Rings Online

The Breaking of Isengard: A play session with Lord of the Rings Online's Update 13

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

LotRO
It's strange to realize that Lord of the Rings Online players have been exploring Volume III of the epic story for four years now. With Update 13: The Breaking of Isengard, all of that is going to end. Volume III will wrap up, Saruman will get what's coming to him, and players will have a new endgame before heading out to Gondor.

We had a play session with the LotRO devs today covering the final eight chapters of Volume III and chatting a bit about what players will fill their time with as they wait for Update 14. Update 13 is certainly replete with plenty to do and see, from an upgraded inventory, mail improvements, a scaling Ettenmoors, revamped zones, and new crafting challenges, but the main story is what pushes the game forward.

In the final chapters of Volume III, players will not only investigate what happened to Isengard during the Battle of Helm's Deep but will have the option of jumping into the shoes (roots?) of an Ent for a unique perspective of an important character in the books. It'll be worth the journey, if only to have a shot at obtaining the first (non-Lore-master) cosmetic pets in the game. You read that right.

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Lord of the Rings Online accepting applications for its second player council

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

LOTRO
Turbine has opened up the doors for fans to apply to be part of Lord of the Rings Online's second Player Council. The studio will take the best of the applications along with its own picks from the community to be part of this influential board that meets with the devs and discusses current issues and upcoming content.

Applicants for the Player Council have to be 18 or older, have played LotRO for six or more months, and be able to converse in English, among other requirements. Members will actively serve for an entire year and be under an NDA during that time period.

Turbine will announce the members of the second Player Council on April 24th.

Jukebox Heroes: Top 40 MMO themes, #10-1

World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, EverQuest II, Lineage 2, Lord of the Rings Online, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Ultima Online, LEGO Universe, Runes of Magic, Miscellaneous, Firefall, Jukebox Heroes, Music

We're finally here: my top 10 MMO theme tracks. I anticipate that out of all of the weeks, this will be the most controversial, since not only am I proclaiming the 10 best, but you'll realize which of your favorite games I've left out of the top 40 entirely.

A final reminder as to my self-imposed rules for this list: I limited myself to just one theme from a particular title, even if there were multiple themes in a game. Entries had to be a main theme or the closest equivalent of that; they had to be from MMOs, not from MOBAs; and I had to divorce my weighting of the track itself from the popularity of and my experience with that game. So there were no points added or subtracted based on my love of the game. I'm counting down the best music, period.

If you missed earlier parts of this series, check out themes #40-31, #30-21, and #20-11. Otherwise, hit that continue button and get listening already!

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The Road to Mordor: What could LotRO's new class be?

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

LOTRO
Wow. A new class was at the very top of my wish list for 2014, but to be honest I never thought it would happen. However, last Friday Aaron Campbell confirmed on a livestream that the team is working on a 10th class to put into the game sometime this year. Instantly, speculation exploded among the Lord of the Rings Online community as to what the class could be and how it will fit into the game.

Campbell gave us a few clues to guide our speculation: The new class would be in accordance with the lore (Turbine talked to Tolkien Enterprises about it), it has been mentioned in the trilogy several times, and it will be a freep (PvE) class and not a creep class. He also thinks it's a "great fit" for the game.

I'm absolutely overjoyed that the game will finally be expanding its hero roster and giving us vets a good reason to go back through the entire journey, but I'll admit that I don't see a clear winner among the possible candidates. Let's hunker down together and look at the possibilities for this LotRO's newest class and see if we can sort out a lead candidate.

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One Shots: Granny Freedom

Screenshots, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, Champions Online, Miscellaneous

champions online
It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a super-powered senior citizen with slight incontinence and a grappling hook!

Well, there's something you don't see every day.

Reader Dynatos brings this gripping image from Champions Online to our attention: "A superhero that has come back out of retirement, Granny Freedom grapples across Millennium City's skies on the lookout for both evil-doers and heroes who need a little help with their moral compass!"

She's also never late for Denny's early bird specials. So what other visual treats do we have in store for you whippersnappers this week? Oh, wouldn't you like to know!

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Lord of the Rings Online is getting a new class in 2014

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

LotRO
The character selection screen in Lord of the Rings Online will see a major shake-up in 2014, as a new class is reportedly on the way for the game.

LOTRO Players announced the news on Twitter: "LotRO is getting a new class later in the year. [Executive Producer] Aaron Campbell just said it on livestream. No other info is known at this time."

Speculation is wide open, although Campbell did drop a few clues according to livestream listeners: "He did state that he had a conversation with Tolkien Enterprises and it's within the lore of the trilogy. He said that it was mentioned in the books several times."

New vids detail Entwood, Isengard, inventory changes from LotRO's Update 13

Fantasy, Video, Lord of the Rings Online, Game Mechanics, Lore, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play

Lord of the Rings Online - After Helm's Deep
Fan site LotRO Players has sussed out a few details on Turbine's upcoming Update 13. Lord of the Rings Online will be heading to Entwood and a flooded version of Isengard, both of which are detailed in lengthy new videos captured on the Bullroarer test server.

Update 13 will also introduce significant changes to LotRO's inventory system, including the ability to purchase additional slots. You can watch all three videos after the break, but be aware that the first two contain spoilers relating to LotRO's epic story quest.

[Thanks everyone who tipped us!]

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The Daily Grind: What would you pay to leave a dying server?

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Lord of the Rings Online, Business Models, Economy, MMO Industry, Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Sandbox, MMORPG

LOTRO
One hundred and thirty-five bucks -- that's what Lord of the Rings Online charges for six character transfer tokens to move your fleet of alts from a dying server to one with a bright future. Nevermind that you weren't the one who turned the server into a ghost town and that it's entirely within a studio's power to make merges happen some way or another; you're the one who foots the bill to escape a dead server.

And sometimes that bill is just not worth paying. I admit to shelling out a huge amount of money (a few hundred dollars) to consolidate and transfer my old Star Wars Galaxies accounts and characters, and it was worth every penny because it was my favorite MMO and I played it every single day and needed a vibrant server and economy to have a good time. But when it comes to an MMO I play as casually as Lord of the Rings Online, I have to draw the line. Especially as a crafter, I just won't pay that kind of money (or ask my guildies to do the same) to move my alts, which often means I don't go back at all and the game gets nothing from me.

What about you -- what would you pay to leave a dying server? How much do you have to love the game before shelling out for transfers is worth it?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

Hitting the Mark: Turbine's sublime Rohan recreation in Lord of the Rings Online

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Lore, MMO Industry, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, First Impressions

Lord of the Rings Online - Riders of Rohan
I've written before about my on-again-off-again love affair with Lord of the Rings Online, and after finally getting my launch-day character to Rohan a few weeks ago, I think it's most definitely on again.

Yeah, I'm still a sandbox fan first and foremost, and yeah, LotRO is still a dyed-in-the-wool nod to the World of Warcraft school of linear MMO development. But it's got a pleasing topcoat of Tolkien paint that often masks the pedestrian mechanics, and nowhere is this more evident than in the Riders of Rohan and Helm's Deep expansions.

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Massively Exclusive: Turbine on the future of Asheron's Call and the studio

Fantasy, Asheron's Call, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Interviews, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play

When has putting an MMO into maintenance mode ever signaled a bright future for a game? Even so, that's what seems to have happened for Asheron's Call, which is preparing to not only transition into a maintenance mode phase but drop subscription fees and allow for player-run servers by the end of the year.

The announcement was so unusual in the industry that we had to reach out to Turbine to get more perspective on this move. Asheron's Call Executive Producer Rob Ciccolini took the time to answer a few questions about the change for the game, Turbine's recent layoffs, and how the studio is adjusting going forward.

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The Road to Mordor: LotRO's big battles are a big bust

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Road to Mordor

LotRO
Recently my journey through Helm's Deep came to a close as I finished all of the quests plus advanced the epic story as far as it could go. Overall, I loved the expansion: It had great pacing, beautiful scenery, memorable quests, and an obvious dedication to doing The Two Towers right. But there was one glaring fault that Lord of the Rings Online seemed to save for the last, which I discovered during my foray into the big battle system.

Other than visiting them in a couple of press tours, I had been avoiding big battles (even though you can jump in one starting at level 10) because I wanted to experience them organically as part of the storyline. I wasn't necessarily anticipating them, but I wasn't dreading them either. "Mild curiosity" is perhaps the emotion that I identified within my breast, and as it turned out, that was wildly overpreparing for the experience that followed.

Big battles are, I'm sorry to say, a big bust in LotRO. Sure, they have their positives and moments, but for a system that Turbine spent over a year to create and shoved aside instances and raids in favor of putting into the expansion, it should have been so much more. So what went wrong?

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Lord of the Rings Online fully automates character transfers

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Business Models, Free-to-Play

LOTRO
It's been long in the process, but now it's finally here: Lord of the Rings Online has switched over to a fully automated character transfer process.

"We are pleased to announce that as of today, Monday, March 3rd, automated character transfers are available to all players for both Free People and Monsters," Turbine posted on the forums. "This is something you have been requesting for some time, and we are very excited to have the service ready for you now!"

Players can move characters between servers by purchasing transfer tokens through the LotRO Market website. One token is $24.95, three tokens is $69.95, and six tokens is $134.95. Unfortunately the new system will not take Turbine Points, nor will it allow players to transfer between NA and EU servers. Turbine said that players have a "limited time" to request a transfer with Turbine Points by contacting support.

Turbine outlines the path ahead for LotRO and DDO

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries

LotRO
Coming hot on the heels of yesterday's revelation about the future of Asheron's Call, Turbine posted a pair of producer's letters this morning to talk about where Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online are heading.

Aaron Campbell has moved back to the LotRO team to be its executive producer and said that Update 13 will be coming soon. In Update 13, there will be a revamp of North Downs, additional quests in Fangorn Forest, support for multiple attachments in mail, and a new epic book that allows you to play as an Ent. "We're pressing forward to Gondor," Campbell promised. "We're digging in deep (but not too deep) to continue the journey through Middle-earth."

As for DDO, Franchise Director Athena Peters said the team is getting ready to push out Update 21 on March 10th but is also looking beyond that to the second update of 2014. Update 22 will expand Three Barrel Cove into epic levels and add new guild airship amenities.

The Road to Mordor: When storm clouds gather...

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

LOTRO
When I think about the news swirling around Lord of the Rings Online lately, I feel a bit like Sam and Frodo getting their first glimpse of Mordor and Mount Doom. It's hard to think of cheer and happiniess when the view is full of heavy clouds and ash.

I have several positive articles that I'd rather be penning this week, but I think it would be a mistake to avoid the questions and feelings that all LotRO players are experiencing right now, including me. It may not be the journey that I'd like to be taking, but it's the one that's needed right now.

So let's sit down together, fill our tankards, and mull over just what's going on with our Middle-earth. Maybe in the talking and in the company we will find the solace and comfort that we need.

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The Daily Grind: Do layoff announcements affect your MMO gameplay?

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Business Models, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind

LotRO's Wildermore
Yesterday's Turbine layoff announcement wasn't particularly surprising, given the fact that the firm has tied its MMO fortunes to a couple of third-party IPs and has been giving away access to its games for the past few years.

Regardless of whether or not we believe Warner Bros. "normal strategic alignment" statement, layoffs are layoffs and they reflect negatively on an ongoing game service to some extent. What that extent is varies from player to player, of course, and that's where today's Daily Grind comes in. Do MMO studio layoff announcements cause you to rethink the amount of time or money you spend on a given game, or is it just business as usual?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

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