LOTRO: A Lesson in Semantics
It’s always nice to know what a video game developer has in mind, especially given the currently volatility of the MMO market. Most of the MMO related news of late has been regarding studio closures and job layoffs. So the arrival of a new Producer’s Letter from Rob Ciccolini (AKA Severlin) is at first glance most welcome. Communication is not exactly Standing Stone Games greatest strength and there hasn’t been a great deal of news filtering down to the player base in the last six months. So this missive is welcome, as it does broadly feature this year’s road map for LOTRO. Furthermore, the details are interesting with further content and systems changes in development. As a long time LOTRO player who purchased the Legacy Bundle in December 2018, I want the MMO to continue grow and evolve.
The list of features under development appear to be appropriate for a ten-year-old MMORPG. Naturally players at level cap want new content and so moving onto the Vale of the Anduin seems to be a logical choice. The unresolved plot regarding Shelob is also going to be addressed, with a return to Minas Morgul. Addressing difficulty issues and adding additional tiers to instances seems an equitable solution to those wanting a harder challenge. Over hauling the virtue system is long over due and it will be nice to see it made relevant again. Although I only dabble with crafting, I appreciate it is a source of enjoyment and challenge for many players. It SSG wish to expand and improve the system that’s fine with me, as it will hopefully mean a lot of new crafted gear appearing in the auction house. The ongoing work on the new 64-bit Windows client is eagerly anticipated, especially if it can address the games performance issues.
However, the Producer’s Letter is just as much as a PR and marketing exercise as it is a formal piece of communication. Therefore the devil is very much in the detail and in this case, the semantics. Consider the following quote. “So, while this does provide a road map for the year, the following letter focuses more on our goals for the game in 2019”. Goals being the key word. Because goals are not the same as formerly announced and mandated business commitments. They are aspirational achievements that can either be met or not. I think that SSG has chosen to use such language deliberately because their plans are dependent on revenue projections, set by their publisher the Daybreak Game Company. A company that is having a somewhat tumultuous time at present. So perhaps it would be wise for LOTRO players to temper their expectation for 2019, as there seems to be a clue in Mr Ciccolini’s words.