Jeffrey Steefel Interview: Book 14 and Beyond
Jon Wood brings us the second part of his interview with Lord of the Rings Online Executive Producer Jeffrey Steefel, where they discuss The Mines of Moria, Turbine's console aspirations, and Book 14.
Last week, we published the first part of an interview with Lord of the Rings Online Executive Producer Jeffrey Steefel where he talked about the upcoming Lord of the Rings Online Korean launch and the effects that it might have on the game for players here in North America. But what about the game itself? Today, we bring you the rest of the interview where Steefel discusses the current game itself. “We’re in the final stages of Book 14,” Steefel answered when I asked him what projects were in full swing over at Turbine. “We also have another group of people who are working very hard on Moria, which is coming together.” Mines of Moria, Steefel tells me, is going to be the major focus of all of the LotRO teams for the next few months. “Making sure that Moria is very high quality, really exciting and fresh with some new things for you to do.” The idea of a full expansion is not only exciting for players, but is also a lot of work for the developers, especially given that Turbine plans to make Mines of Moria the first of yearly expansion releases. “Moria is going to be the first of annual expansions, so we’re already at the planning stage of what that’s going to be like at the end of 2009,” he said. Two weeks ago, Turbine CEO Jim Crowley told MMORPG.com that Turbine was investigating the world of consoles. In this interview, Steefel confirmed the report, telling us that, “We certainly are working on console.” While the company isn’t yet ready to talk about hows and whens and whys, this does confirm recent rumors that the PC-only development studio is branching into the world of consoles. “It’s certainly part of our development strategy now, and we’ve been hiring against that and doing some work toward that.” So, with the medium and far future of the company discussed, the conversation turned more back toward the current development of Book 14. For those who may not know, or may not have been following Lord of the Rings, Turbine releases frequent free content updates that add to the flavor and content of the world. Book 14, it seems, will start to wind down the Epic Story that has been building ever since the game’s launch, paving the way for the upcoming expansion, which will start a whole new chapter of the continuing story. In fact, Book 14 is set to end near the entrance to the mines. Book 14’s story will start to set players up to travel through the mines. They will hear that the Fellowship of the Ring has been through the mines and have stirred up all kinds of unknown evil. It will be up to the players to clean up Frodo and Co.’s mess in the upcoming expansion. While Steefel tells me that you could call Moria Book 15 in the continuing story that is Lord of the Rings Online, Turbine is actually looking at it another way. “You could call it Book 15, but it’s really Book 1 of Volume 2,” he said. “Every year when we have an expansion, it’s going to be a new volume.” “The whole story of the Witch-King and Angmar trying to take over Eriador as the free people stop them from doing that, that’s kind of volume 1, books 1-14. Then, we start volume 2 in Moria, then it becomes more about the start of the war that’s going on on the other side of the Misty Mountains. The evil now starts to be more centered on Sauron and Sarumon and less about the Witch King.” The last thing that I asked before letting him get back to work was what we could expect in Book 14 in terms of small world and social additions. After all, they set the bar by bringing fishing into the game with the last book. “You’ll probably see some kind of extension of the existing social systems. We’re not adding a big new social system and we’re not adding a new hobby probably until Moria,” he answered. “You’ll get more things to play with in Housing.” “The really big focus for book 14,” he told me, “is around our live event system. That’s something that’s been in since launch that we’ve been growing [under the radar].” Being informed by their Asheron’s Call 1 team, they have built a system that will allow them to trigger events in a number of ways: a schedule, a time of day, a specific day, or in-game triggers. The festivals that have cropped up in-game in the last year were a kind of prelude to the live events system. “We’re doing a lot more with that in Book 14,” he said, “including new areas that expand on the land control stuff that we’ve done in a couple of parts of the game.” Players are going to have to work with others to gain ownership of certain control points. Holding those control points will open up more content for the team. Speaking to Steefel, you get the feeling that there is lots going on over at the Turbine offices. If it’s not a major expansion, it’s a new book or module update. If it isn’t that, it’s making preparations to try to adapt their games for console play. As usual, MMORPG.com will continue to follow Turbine’s development of both Dungeons and Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online.