Level Up! Branadoc hits 50; A look at Producer Paizs’ Letter

During my continued adventuring yesterday my main character, Branadoc, finally hit level 50! Yep, after 3.5 years of existence I finally hit the Shadows of Angmar level cap and now there are only 15 more levels keeping me from the current cap!… Yay? I might, feasibly, see the current cap before Rise of Isengard is released but who knows right?

Now don’t take my comments above as showing me to be some sort of person who only aims for “end game”. I just want to have at least one level capped character on my account after 3.5 years you know? Then I can focus on my huge bevy of alts and look into all the different quest zones I haven’t experienced (mainly due to them coming out after I had already out-leveled them on my main).

If you want to read my opinion on the latest State of the Game [Producer’s] letter by producer Kate Paiz then read on after the break.

So today Kate Paiz (the Producer for LotRO) put out her latest Producer’s Letter to the community. She talked about some of the most recent changes (mainly in the November update) and gave some snippets into what is coming next year (pre expansion). Other than an extraordinary number of exclamation marks, (I get the idea that Ms/Mrs. Paiz is a pretty outgoing person in person ;)), the letter contains some interesting snippets as well as some things that may not be to my liking.

She opens up with the standard “we are glad how things are, thanks for being great” paragraph, then goes on to address (sort of) 2 of the things that people have been wondering about. Namely the opening up of the level cap & quest zones [not packs mind you] for the entire game to Free/Premium level players.

Free Epic Quests in Moria & Mirkwood – We’ve had a lot of feedback from former players who came back with the free-to-play launch that they were really hoping to have a chance to play through Moria and Mirkwood without having to commit to the upfront cost of the expansion. We thought this was a great point, and as we’ve said several times, we’ve been exploring what it means to have an “expansion pack” in a game with a free option. We’re very pleased to now allow all players to experience the Epic Story in Moria and Mirkwood and to level freely to max level, currently level 65! We will incorporate the response of the players into our consideration for how to handle future expansions, like Rise of Isengard for next year.

I can see where they are coming from with this and am all for it. I am guessing that the last sentence means the level cap raise to 70 with Isengard will also be granted to free players. I could be wrong of course, but that is how I read it.

One of the things that a small vocal group of folks were clamoring about on the forums the past few weeks was the release of the Lone Lands quest pack free to F2P players. Some folks immediately assumed that the Lone Lands would be inundated with “wow rejects”/”kiddies”/etc [I do not make these things up]. Barring the fact that those people already had the ability to go into the Lone Lands and hunt mobs I can only see it as a good thing – more folks doing quests in the area means more grouping for those so inclined, and it is also a method to draw free players deeper into the game (the first 30 levels before Lone Lands just flies by really).

Kate Paiz addressed it as follows:

New Content Type: Tasks & Lone-lands – A lot of players get through the free regions and realize they need more reputation to continue with the Epic Quests in the Lone-lands. We on the dev team really like the Lone-lands (after all, who doesn’t love Weathertop?) and felt it was just a shame that some players were not playing that content because they didn’t have the rep or because they weren’t ready to make a purchase. So we are trying two solutions, and are eager to see how you like them! The first solution has been to make Lone-lands a free region for all players, and we’re certainly curious to know what you think of that choice. The second, Tasks, is a new type of quest that allows you to change your trophies into reputation, and was launched as a Beta feature in the November update. Elder players won’t be able to participate in the system as it is geared towards low level players, but we are happy to extend it once we see how popular it is or what other features it needs.

Makes sense to me, though they added rep to the kill reward on many mobs in the zone (Goblins come to mind right off) to help with this. I guess those rep points were just not adding up fast enough. I haven’t played with the Task System much at all, but it seems that every single trash mob drop (like Ragged Fur, Jagged Claw, etc) have the ability to be turned in somewhere for tasks – the niggle is figuring out which goes where and determining if the loss of coin is worth it (you get no coin rewards for tasks, only Rep & XP – thus one of the major coin earning methods now has a catch-22).

Radiance and Legendary Items are also getting some attention early next year with the removal of the former and updating of the latter.

# Radiance & its removal in Q1 –We’ve received a lot of feedback on Radiance gating since its introduction and are pleased to announce that Radiance gear will no longer be a requirement for any of our instances or raids. In fact, with the release of our Q1 update next year, we will be removing Radiance from the game entirely. It will not be present in the new Instance Cluster or Epic Book and will be removed from all current instances. You should get your first look at a Radiance-free LOTRO on Bullroarer in early February of next year.
# Next Steps with Legendary Items – We’re planning on doing two upgrades to Legendary Items next year – one in the Q1 release, and one later in the year. The goal is to respond to a bunch of your feedback and to incorporate some more versatility, flexibility and less randomness into the system. We’ll certainly be releasing a dev diary on the Q1 changes as we get into next year.

Not much to say on those 2 – I have no Radiance gear and I need to see what they plan for LI’s before formulating an opinion.

She also touches briefly on some more changes coming both in Q1 ‘11 and w/ Isengard like Cosmetic Pets, Cosmetic Clothing System Upgrade, New Dungeons & Instances, Expanded Monster Play, and First Age LI’s.

Of those talking points one thing caught my attention and worried me:

Cosmetic Pets – We’ve received a lot of requests from non-Lore-masters for the other classes to have fun pets, too! We’re looking into how we can make it so that all classes can customize their character by adding cute and fun creatures that may add small buffs to combat, but won’t be combat-oriented in their use. No release timeline is certain yet, but we are actively exploring what would be fun and cool.

“may add small buffs to combat” – No. Just… No. Considering that cosmetic pets will A) likely be focused on being store items and B) be cosmetic – I do NOT want to see any sort of combat perk associated with them. Don’t do it . Please.

Anyway, I suggest y’all read the full letter (linked above) and formulate your own opinions. Sorry for the extra long post but I wanted to share my thoughts.

Happy Hunting!



~ by Branadoc on December 3, 2010.

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