[Special note: Obviously, the news that LotRO is going free-to-play hit after this article was already written, so stay tuned as we dissect what it means for existing and potential new customers next week!]
Lately, it feels like we're in a holding pattern for Lord of the Rings Online. The last major content patch, Volume III: Book 1, is fading into distant memory, and we're pushing into summer without definite news of the next update -- or better yet, the next expansion. Players are also nervous about any changes or new directions the game may take after the recent acquisition of Turbine by Warner Bros., and the silence certainly doesn't help any.
However, there's always hope in the darkest places of Middle-earth, and the same can be said for the game itself. The Summer Festival should be around the corner, and as for new news, Sapience handed out a bit of vague encouragement on the forums: "You guys know we're preparing an announcement. I can't give you a specific date as to when we'll make it, but I can say I just ran into Adam Mersky coming out of an E3 planning meeting and he was pretty stoked!"
While we continue the wait for the next step forward for LotRO, I thought it'd be a good idea to head over to the official forums and do a little diving for some of the more interesting topics and discussions bouncing around the LotRO community today.
What's coming? Here's what we know.
To help with the agonizing wait for more information, Graythandor does us all a favor by compiling scraps of confirmed information into a neat and tidy post. In it, we discover that along with an announcement by Turbine at E3, we should be seeing new icons (yay!), DX11, and an improved running animation for male hobbits, who currently suffer from a fused spine and no sense of propriety. A lot of these items aren't earth-shattering, but they do show that Turbine is certainly moving forward, and that our patience will be rewarded. (Apparently, the devs even snuck in a little pep talk in the form of a recent LotRO lottery for waiting players -- patience, thyme and truths.)
Hidden nuggets we see all the time...
We know that Turbine's tried hard to stick close to the source material in LotRO, but I didn't know how closely. The "hidden nuggets" thread is devoted to spotting and calling out all sorts of small details that tie in with the books and lore. Even though it's incredibly long, a brief perusal should convince you that Turbine's crew love the books as much as anyone, and are pretty brilliant about peppering the game with fun details that 99.9% of us would normally miss. Amazingly, this thread has been active since its initial posting in 2007(!) and is pushing 100 pages at this point.
Microtransactions: What would be acceptable to you?
While becoming more accepted in MMO circles, microtransactions are still very much of a hot-button topic, especially for games (like LotRO) that have yet to include them in their core business model. (I mean, sure, they have premium services, but those are under the radar and pretty limited in scope.) In any case, this thread took the topic of hypothetical microtransactions in LotRO and ran with it, and the ensuing discussion is pretty interesting to read. Some would welcome microtransactions if they added more options to the game, while others are vehemently opposed on general principle.
Show us your favorite cosmetic outfit
Another long-running thread that's still being added to on a daily basis, I find this immensely helpful for outfit ideas. It's not too shabby to peruse for fun, either, and just enjoy the creativity of the community when it comes to decking out toons with their Sunday best. It's amazing how the use of a few strategic pieces and the right colors can turn an average look into something stunningly attractive.
Petition to add 1337 speak to the profanity filter
Over on the LotRO EU forums, Kernowyn started an interesting petition to weed out "leet-speak" from the chat in the same way profanity is weeded out. Seeing as how the LotRO community prides itself on being mature, it's understandable that people might want the general chat to reflect this, although this petition has a nasty undercurrent of elitism to it as well. As of the writing of this article, the results of the poll attached to this petition are almost evenly split between "for" and "against."
First "wow" or "oooh"
I love threads like this, because they are born in a positive spirit and encourage players to reminisce together. For this thread, the OP asked forum-goers to share the first time that LotRO wowed them, either by something they saw, experienced or even heard. As usual, the arrival at Weathertop and Rivendell seems to rate as one of these watershed moments for many players.
Tell the Community Team -- Burglar class feedback
As part of their weekly feedback threads, Turbine devs are starting to march through the professions in alphabetical order. First up are the Burglars, a class near and dear to my heart. They ask for feedback on three specific topics (and you can be sure that other classes will receive identical queries): what changes would you make to the class, what legacies would you add to the legacy pool, and what set bonuses are most and least useful?
Tavern Talk -- A look at what the LotRO community is talking about this week:
- Killed in a Smiling Accident calls LotRO's tooltips out in a wonderfully amusing way
- Kassabelle sees Middle-earth in every-day Michigan
- LOTRO Weekly provides a great list of online LotRO resources
- A Casual Stroll to Mordor makes the best birthday cake ever
- The Stone Kingdom needs more SPACE, dude!
- Mordor or Bust builds a case for LotRO going free-to-play
- Podcast Roundup: LOTROCast #27, A Casual Stroll to Mordor #39, The Green Dragon Inn #3, Gondor Awaits #0,