Mines of Moria Launch Interview with Jeffery Steefel, Part One

John Funk | 18 Nov 2008 17:33
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WC: So, in Moria, you have two new classes, the Warden and the Runekeeper. There's been controversy over the fact that it's a pure magic-using class. How are you reconciling the difference between the magic-casting and the Lord of the Rings world, and are you planning to have more magic-using classes in the future?

JS: I think there are two main pieces to it. One: as with everything that we do in LotRO, it's a game first - but, it's a Lord of the Rings game, so we have to be very cognizant of that. But if there's something that really prohibits it from being an RPG game in the way that players expect, then we try to figure out ways to deliver that gameplay and that functionality in a way that still makes sense in Middle-Earth. The Runekeeper is not a Wizard, he won't be shooting fire out of his eyes or summoning flame from his fingertips. He has runes that has certain powers that he's able to draw on - arcane knowledge of Middle-Earth and the way things work - and he can use that to manipulate the environment. The archetype for him is more of an Elrond or Galadriel, and less of a Gandalf or Saruman.


It's about presenting it in a context where it makes sense. Because, you know, for most of the players - and indeed, Tolkien Enterprises, the licensor - the concern isn't that we have a literal adherence to the books, because we wouldn't be able to make a game if we did that, literally. The important thing is, let's not do anything that makes Middle-Earth not feel like Middle-Earth. That's when we start to get into trouble: not because it isn't literally correct, but because it doesn't feel like you're in that environment anymore. So, that's the first piece.

The second piece, and we're lucky that our licensor is right there with us on this, is making a game. There are some places where we just have to concede, "we're making a game." Much in the same way that people in the Shire in the books who had errands for people to run didn't actually have gold rings floating above their heads. There are people in the world who have flashy things happening around them in the game, where that would never happen in the books. You have to make some suspension of disbelief, and you have to make some allowances so that the RPG player can really experience what they want to experience. And again, it's about context. Is it presented in a way where it doesn't fundamentally change what the world feels like? This will still not be like some other RPGs where there are literally Wizards all over the place throwing fire and flashing lightning at each other all the time; this is one element of the world, this is one class. Will we have many, many magic-user classes? I don't think so. We have the Loremaster and the Runekeeper now, they're distinguished from each other and round out the classes.

The interesting thing about Middle-Earth and the Lord of the Rings story and mythos is that there are only a certain number of types of things - there's only so many famous things in the world. There's only so many types of races, people, creatures in the world. That's what makes them all special; they're not just one of a long list: "We have 29 classes! You can be this, or this, or this, or this!" You can basically be one of the archetypes in Middle-Earth, whether it's a Legolas, or a Gimli, or whatever it has to be (and in fact, our classes are definitely modeled after those kinds of archetypes). Then, how you customize and make use of that archetype as a player is what makes you unique in the world. That's what Deeds and Traits are all about, and that's what the huge new thing with the Legendary Items that we're launching in Moria is all about.

Stay tuned for the second half of our interview with Jeffery Steefel, when we look at the star of the show - the ancient kingdom of Moria itself!

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