Thanks to Drugh (in German) for pointing me to a terrific interview with Turbine CEO Jeff Anderson on Shacknews. The interview is of full of juicy nuggets.
Jeff discusses the way that the Book 9 content patch (shores of Evendim) will be targeted at levels 35 to 45. I know that the lack of solo content at these levels has frustrated many fast leveling players but as Jeff points out: "Book 9 focuses in on providing level 35-45 content, and most players aren't really at that point, so we just want to continually be ahead of them, providing new, free game content to keep them excited about where the product is going." I've been playing 3 hours a day since launch and Throg has just turned 30 so the timing of the expansion is just perfect for me.
With regards to future expansions Jeff suggests that book 10 will follow on about two months after book 9 (August) and book 11 is due in October. In other great news he says that book 10 will definitely be free just like book 9. I am inclined to trust Turbine to release content when they say they will and with expansions coming out at this rate I cannot see myself every getting ahead of the content.
Juicy news also about player housing due out with book 11 in October. According to Jeff:"There will be some cross-section of landscape housing and instance housing, and I think it depends on whether it's for a kinship, or whether it's an individual player." So it sounds as if players will be able to make a permanent mark on the landscape through their kinships but we won't have bungalow blitz with thousands of player houses springing up around every scenic beauty spot. Reading between the lines it sounds like we may have to pay for the chapter 11+housing expansion but Jeff does seem to be aware of the need to give value for money in a paid for expansion.
Jeff also has some interesting comments on the "end game". He effectively dismisses the term as an excuse companies use for the time when their game runs out of content. If he stays true to his promises Lotro won't funnel high level players into a few repetitive modes play (like raiding of grinding faction). To quote Jeff: "And so that's what we make sure, is that part of our end game is that there is no end game". I wonder how turbine are going to square this promise of ongoing content expansions with the fact that the core storyline does have an end. They can drag out the story but eventually the one ring will have to get dumped into the fires of mount doom.
Jeff Anderson is also doing a Slashdot question and answer session this week. All in all I am very impressed with the Turbine's CEO's willingness to come out and talk to people. I know it is probably carefully stage managed but it works for me at least and gives this punter a warm fuzzy feeling that Lotro is a game with a future.
Jeff did not mention user interface scalability. I suppose I have learned to work around it at this stage but I know that it is still a major stumbling block for many potential players. I heard somewhere that this is going to be included in the soon to be released chapter 9 but if it isn't it will be a sorely missed opportunity.
Less comforting to me was Jeff's admission at the end of the interview that "PCs are always going to retain a place, but long-term, consoles are a huge market" . As a dyed in the wool PC gamer I have been enjoying the recent resurgence in PC gaming which stems from (I believe) uncertainty over the outcome of the current console wars and the popularity of mmorpgs. I sense an impending inevitability that someday I am going to have to learn to use a game-pad but not yet, not yet.