Steefle Talks Tolkien in LotRO Interview

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Turbine’s Jeffrey Steeple, executive producer, and Adam Mersky, director of communications for Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar talk about Book 11, LotRO, working with the Tolkien license and their vision of  the future of the MMO gaming business in a recent interview with Gamasutra.

LotRO launched in April of 2007 and is already one of most popular MMORPGs out there, second only to World of Warcraft. The game launched simultaneously in North America and Europe, and Turbine has plans to open up servers in Asia and other regions as well.

A good part of the success of the game is the free expansion packs that have consistently improved gameplay, added new features and advanced the storyline. Players can expect an average of one per quarter as some updates are larger than others. Each expansion or Book adds new features geared to suit several different play styles.

JS: We recognize that we have different audiences inside our game. Which is great — it’s what we wanted. But we’ve got different groups of people who play the game differently who are going to continue playing the game differently, so the updates are not just more stuff.

We take a look at, in each update, how can we satisfy what the next needs are of each of those groups. So, housing satisfies one group of people who want to drive more of their social experience. We’ve got the raid that we’ve added and things like that that are driving the hardcore guys who want to make sure they have high-level endgame kind of experience. And then we’ve got a lot of stuff that’s in-between for the landscape player — the person who really wants to experience the story — and that’s the envelope we keep pushing. It’s really more of a platform than a game. It’s our own little Tolkien cable channel! (laughs)

The Turbine crew talk about working with the Tolkien literary license as opposed to the movie license. They describe the Tolkien literary estate as one of the most interested and involved of the licenses they ever worked with. They go into the balancing act that is bending without breaking the license to maintain the fun and satisfying Tolkien fans and gamers of all demographics.

Read the full interview for Turbine’s take on other MMOs and the future of the online business on Gamasutra.

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