Last year much of the discourse around The Lord of the Rings Online was one where the community didn't feel as though the team was doing as much as it could to communicate with its players. This was completely exacerbated thanks to the extended downtimes last year. However, the recent push with interviews, especially with new producer Raninia, it feels like Standing Stone Games has dome a complete 180 - for the better.
Last year felt like an interesting year for The Lord of the Rings Online. When the pandemic hit, the team at Standing Stone Games gave away much of its quest pack inventory for free as a way to get players into Middle-earth when many of us were stuck at home. This built up a lot of goodwill with the community, both new and old, a wave that it felt like SSG rode through most of the initial months of the pandemic.
However, late last summer, The Lord of the Rings Online experienced a prolonged bout of downtime, spanning weeks where some, if not all servers, were not accessible, or were incredibly unstable. During this time, the team communicated some, but it felt muted, restrained even. Specifically, for me personally, it didn't feel like they were communicating enough.
However, the last few months have seen what feels like a massive push of communication by the studio, with community manager Jerry "Cordovan" Snook and executive producer Rob "Severlin" Ciccolini hosting Q&As with the community periodically, as well as a round of interviews spearheaded by new producer Oleg "Raninia" Brodskiy. From these interviews, much more information about not just the immediate future of The Lord of the Rings is being discussed, but also long term goals, such as concrete information about the long-mentioned, yet still not delivered, Legendary Item revamp, as well as readdressing the monetization in The Lord of the Rings Online.
Interviews with outlets like ourselves, as well as pushes with LotRO content creators have created buzz around the MMORPG again, something I haven't felt for quite some time. It's refreshing to see so much outward communication from the studio, especially one that for a long time has felt reclusive and not as communicative as the community deserved.
My hope is that this continues well in the future and doesn't end once Gundabad, the LI revamp and the monetization changes take place. The real test will be how the communication holds up during the next crisis. Will we see a Standing Stone Games more openly addressing the concerns of its players in a timely manner, or will we see much of what the community was concerned about in the summer of 2020? Time will definitely tell.