One of the more unexpected announcements to hit the MMO-space late last year was that Turbine was handing over Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online to Standing Stone Games and to be published by Daybreak Game Company. We caught up with the team to find out more about the transition and the future of both venerated games.
MMORPG: Lord of the Rings Online is coming up on its tenth anniversary, what plans do you have to celebrate the game’s long lifespan?
We are thrilled to be celebrating LOTRO’s 10th anniversary this April and have big plans for it. We’ll be unveiling a new event that will serve as a fun centerpiece to complement the festival and will be doing the kinds of things we typically do during our anniversaries, such as giving out free in-game items. We also have big plans for our Twitch channel (Twitch.tv/LOTROstream). We’ll have a day-long livestream featuring interviews, videos, and a look back at a decade of Lord of the Rings Online!
We plan to release Update 20 around our anniversary, which will feature a region called the Wastes. Players will adventure through the bleak Noman Lands, face danger in Dagorlad, and travel to Mordor’s very Slag Hills. We will take players to the Battle at the Black Gate, which is Lord Aragorn’s last and desperate attempt to divert the Enemy from its true demise. We’ll have two capstone resource dungeons that can be played in both solo and fellowship modes in the Towers of the Teeth. Update 20 will also feature an expansion of our Flora system, reputation barter items, and more.
MMORPG: After ten years of working with the title, what is it like for Standing Stone Games to continue the lore of Middle Earth? Where does the team begin?
We have a rich trove of lore to mine from the books, so finding things to develop is sort of the easy part! Our team has been progressing our Epic Story at a steady pace, so the path of the Epic Story serves as a good place to start when deciding where to develop next. We typically look at where we are, where we are going, and what is the most exciting way for both us and players to get there. For a long time our community has been able to follow the path of the characters and events that Tolkien wrote, but soon we will begin focusing on adventures that lie beyond the War of the Ring, with Aragorn seated upon the Throne of Gondor. New heroes will need to take up the mantle, and those heroes will be the players.
MMORPG: What was it like to transition both LOTRO and DDO over into Daybreak? What were some of the challenges and rewards?
Transitioning to Standing Stone Games has been smooth, although it certainly took quite a bit of preparation time. Making sure we had all of the various elements of our infrastructure ready for the switch was one of our larger challenges due to the sheer size and scope of our games and the systems that support them. It’s been very rewarding to see our players tell us they are ready to continue the journey with us, and it’s going to be fantastic to head into Mordor with Lord of the Rings Online and Ravenloft with Dungeons & Dragons Online.
MMORPG: How has the player community reacted? What feedback have you gotten on LOTRO moving forward?
Many people are responding positively to the news. Our players are excited to know that we will be dedicating ourselves to expanding Lord of the Rings Online (and Dungeons & Dragons Online) for a long time to come, and our community has a large wish list of places they would like to see. They want us to continue to dedicate resources to class improvements and continue to fine-tune the game client to make LOTRO perform as best as possible for a wide range of computer specs. One of the nice things about having a large and diverse community is there is never a shortage of requests for things to work on.
MMORPG: Can you give us some insight into your plans for 2017?
We will be releasing a new Producer’s Letter shortly that will outline our plans for 2017, but we intend to release Update 20, then focus on our 10thAnniversary, prior to releasing the Mordor expansion for Update 21. We are aiming to have a new race, the High Elf, released with Update 21. Update 22 will round out the year, but at this point, we’ll keep its contents under wraps. We also want to update our character avatars to make them even better looking.
MMORPG: With such iconic titles, it seems like a great place for classic games. What are you doing to bring in new players?
We agree! We work tirelessly to promote our game across the world, through traditional advertising and marketing efforts in addition to interviews like this one with MMORPG.com. We’re also doing livestreams, videos, podcasts, social media, and a host of other activities. One of our core principles is that making our players happy leads them to tell their friends and loved ones about us, and we’ve had a lot of success through that kind of organic reach.