Lord of the Rings Online will launch its first expansion pack in the coming months and they're starting big in the Mines of Moria. We spoke to Executive Producer Jeffrey Steefel about this expansion in the first half of an epic interview, which we have now transcribed for your pleasure.

Check back tomorrow for Book 13 and general updates.



WarCry Interview: Lord of the Rings Online
Mines of Moria Expansion Pack
Answers by Jeffrey Steefel (Executive Producer)
Questions by Jordan Deam

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WarCry: Let's start out with an easy one: what excites you about Mines of Moria?

Jeffrey Steefel: Wow, where to start. I mean Moria ... first of all, Moria, right? I mean, we're working on Middle Earth, Lord of the Rings, and being able to go to Moria, to bring players into Moria and really create that environment ... that's hugely exciting for us. Moving onto the more active parts of Middle Earth in the story ... you know, once you get across the Misty Mountains, war is not only brewing, it's happening, so there's lots of cool stuff happening there. Some of the feature sets that we're doing for Moria, the item advancement system, I'm hugely excited about. It's going to be a really cool extension of our existing advancement system, and I think players are going to really enjoy that ... it's a pretty big system we've been working on for quite some time.

WarCry: What can you tell us about that system? Will there be actual weapon XP, questlines that involve specific weapons? Are the upgrade paths going to be linear, or branching out so that players will be able to customize weapons to suit their own playstyles?

Jeffrey Steefel: Obviously there are some things that have to be pre-baked into the advancement path, otherwise you'd have eighteen million combinations ... and we'd release sometime in 2020. But absolutely ... the way I describe it, it sounds a little odd, but think of the weapon as almost like a pet that you've acquired - a full-on pet, so it has it's own XP that it gets. It gets that XP through a lot of the ways that players do: has it been involved in a particular type of battle, has it been in a particular part of the world, has it been utilized in a certain quest, has it been utilized in a certain deed, has it been slotted with a certain type of trait, you know. ... That's all on the side of "software," and on the hardware side, it's "what runes or gems have I found or acquired that I've slotted into this weapon?" a la Diablo ... So how does all that stuff mix together? The weapon has its own depth ... that will grow over time. ... It's a whole other advancement path that kind of travels along with you.

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WarCry: On the "software" side, is it going to be all voluntary in terms of the kinds of traits a weapon would acquire when you're using it? For example, if you kill a certain number of a type of enemy with it, would a weapon automatically acquire some kind of trait, or is it always a decision that the player is consciously making to modify it?

Jeffrey Steefel: Not getting into too many details about that just because we're still in the process of building it. ... But, much in the same way that ... deeds, for example - there's all kinds of deeds in the game; you don't really know what all of them are; they appear in certain opportune moments and become available to you or become visible to you, and you have a choice about whether you want to pursue them or not based on the advantages that you get by pursuing them. There are going to be those kinds of decisions as well in item advancement. Not exactly the same, but where there are going to be different paths available depending on what you choose to pursue. But it is going to just happen.

The things that are intentional on the player's part is: I go out, and I get the particular stone, and I choose to forge it into my weapon. Or I choose to deconstruct my weapon, which you'll be able to do. ... Your legendary weapon is bound to you in its legendary form, but at any time you can deconstruct that into its component parts; you can actually trade and sell the component parts. So there's things that you choose to do, that are determined by what the player wants to do, and things that just happen over the course of ... it's kind of like having a hireling. Except it's a weapon.

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