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Book 14 Dev Journal: Moving the Fellowship

As the storyline in The Lord of the Rings Online goes ever on, the developers at Turbine have run into the problem of what to do with certain NPCs who move around a lot, specifically the Fellowship of the Ring. This latest Dev Journal from Turbine looks at how they solve these problems in Book 14.

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Book 14 brings with it a number of great new additions and features, but for those of us heavily invested in the storyline, one of the most exciting developments is also one of the longest-awaited: the Fellowship will finally depart Rivendell on their errand of secrecy. In today's Dev Diary, I hope to shed some light on how we're accomplishing the big move, why we're handling it the way we are, and what it means for you!

First, some numbers:

Number of the Fellowship: 9

Number of the Fellowship inside buildings:
2

    * Aragorn, inside the foyer, Last Homely House
    * Gandalf, inside the library, Last Homely House

Number of the Fellowship hanging around outside: 7

    * Frodo, front porch, Last Homely House
    * Sam, back porch, Last Homely House
    * Merry, wooded grove, Rivendell
    * Pippin, stables, Rivendell
    * Legolas, Haven of Orladion, Rivendell
    * Boromir, pacing near north exit, Rivendell
    * Gimli, his father's camp, Misty Mountains

Number of quests that involve members of the Fellowship: 51

    * 14 Epic quests
    * 4 Quests containing instances
    * 17 Class quests
    * 16 Side quests

As you can see, the Fellowship can be found throughout Rivendell and the Misty Mountains, and are involved in quite a few quests. This presents us with a number of challenges when attempting to move them as their errand begins.

Challenges Raised by Moving the Fellowship:

If the Fellowship Moves, What Happens To All Their Quests?

How Can We Minimize Damage to Players' Immersion?

How Can We Make the Fellowship's Departure Available to the Most People?

Taking each of these challenges into account, we arrived at a system that seems to meet each of these needs. Since members of the Fellowship will be moving to new locations as the story progresses, we developed a new rule:

Fellowship members will be on landscape when at the current location of the story, and in time-frozen interiors at each of their old locations.

This means that as we release updates that progress the story, the Fellowship will be on landscape at their "most recent" arrival, and will be located at their previous stop inside an interior that is frozen at a particular time. For their upcoming move in Book 14, this means:

New Location on Landscape: Lothlórien (sorry, not available yet ^_^)
    
Time-Frozen Interior(s): Rivendell, December 24

What is a time-frozen interior? It's an interior space where we've halted time at a particular moment in the story. For the upcoming move, we actually have two time-frozen interiors in Rivendell: some Guest Rooms on the southern slope of the Vale of Imladris, and Bilbo's Room in the House of Elrond. These interiors are frozen just before the Fellowship leaves Rivendell, as they are making their final preparations for their journey.

All of the quests that involved the Fellowship will still be available, and they have all been updated to point to their new locations inside either the Guest Rooms or Bilbo's Room.

Let's field some questions!

Q: Does this mean that once the Fellowship leaves Rivendell, we'll still be able to see them there?

A: If you go into either of the time-frozen interiors you will, but you won't accidentally bump into Boromir grumbling on the road to the Misty Mountains anymore. The Fellowship will be available in Rivendell if you need them, but if you don't seek them out you won't see them.

Q: Why not lock the doors based on quest state, like you do in Book 1 with the rooms inside the Prancing Pony? My immersion is irreplaceably broken if I know that I can still find the Fellowship in Rivendell once they've left!

A: It's a good question, but sadly it's just not feasible in this case, for a few reasons: we'd need nine separate interiors, for one: just because you've done quests for Frodo doesn't mean that you've done the quests for Sam, so we'd need to be able to block access to them separately. Keeping track of nine totally different locations isn't very player-friendly, and Scenario has more important things for his team to be building (*cough* Moria *cough*) than nine new interiors in Rivendell. Also, some of these characters are involved in many, many quests. Pippin's not too bad, but the door blocking access to Gandalf or Aragorn would need to check quest state for seven or fifteen quests! Except for a fairly small percentage of the population, most of these doors wouldn't lock anyway.

Q: What about making the Fellowship only appear on your client if you are on the right quest state to see them?

A: This isn't really the home run you think it is, unless your immersion is helped by seeing other players standing around talking to invisible people, or seeing some of the Fellowship still in Rivendell while the other half of them have set out. "You left Frodo behind!"
Dev Diary - Moving the Fellowship - Bilbo

It's been a treat getting to move the Fellowship from Rivendell (they've certainly had time to prepare for the journey!), and when Book 14 is released, if you have a character that can accept Level 50 quests, you'll be able to participate in the momentous occasion as well! I hope you enjoy it, and that the reasoning behind handling the move in this fashion is clear.

Thanks, and fair travels!

 


To read this article at its original source, click here.

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