Ask Turbine: Monthly Interviews with Lord of the Rings OnlineLord of the Rings Online Interview: Book 13Ask Turbine: Monthly Interviews with Lord of the Rings Online - RSS 2.0
In the second half of our interview, we focused on Book 13. Yesterday, it was all about The Mines of Moria expansion pack. Today, we look at the next patch, in this transcription of Jeffrey Steefel's conversation with our own Jordan Deam.
Ask Turbine: "Book 13"
Answers by Jeffrey Steefel (Executive Producer)
Questions by Jordan Deam
WarCry: Going back to "biomes" for a bit, I understand in Book 13 you will be debuting a new zone [Forochel] which will be the first to feature open water. Will that be significant to the gameplay in this zone?
Jeffrey Steefel: It's extremely cold water; when you go into it, it's going to have a very bad effect on you very quickly. And so in terms of ... if your question is "are we going to be embarking on missions on ships in Forochel," the answer is "no." It's the first exposure of players to the edges of the continent and seeing that there are oceans out there, that there are opportunities in the future to venture out into them. But in the case of Forochel, it's really meant to be ... more aesthetic than anything. And obviously some of the creatures that reside there and some of the atmospheric effects happen to result from it being near ocean. But being in the water is not a major part of the gameplay in Forochel. Other than dying.
WarCry: What can you tell us about the hobby of Fishing you're introducing in Book 13?
Jeffrey Steefel: Well, I mean, it's fishing. [Laughs] You're going to be able to get fishing poles of different capabilities, but your sort of basic fishing pole you just attach with bait and lures, and there are all these kinds of fish you can catch. Some of them will be regional; it's not just the same fish everywhere. Something that we really wanted to make sure that we focused on was - so this is different than some other games - making sure that you could fish anywhere pretty much. We have fishing available anywhere there's water, pretty much. Not everywhere, but we don't want there to be locations in Middle Earth where fishing just isn't possible. Some of the level restrictions that some games have on fishing is something we're not doing.
It's kind of interesting ; it's the "skinny path, fat path" thing that we've talked about in the past with our design that we do with crafting, that we do with combat, that we do with everything, which is: We want to, on the one hand, provide a certain immediate access with doing the activity, and doing the depth of the activity, but at the same time having a higher-level mastery path for someone who really wants to get into it and get really great at it. Being able to fish will be a pretty easy thing to do, but there will be opportunities to get really good at it, to figure out how to use the right bait in the right place, to achieve a lot of skill at it. And then you'll be able to ... create stuff for cooks to turn into food, you'll be able catch them and mount them on your wall in your house. It'll be fun.
WarCry: It sounds like more than just another skill point grind where you're clicking the same button over and over again. You'll have to put some thought into it ...
Jeffrey Steefel: That depends on which thought. And we debated that. ... You can take this as far as you can imagine in terms of functionality. I think its a social activity, and we want to be careful, kind of in the way that we did with music, where we find out how people are doing this, where they do it, what kind of enhancements they want before we build every last bell and whistle, including ... things like, for example, targeting, which is something we were talking about. Or things like velocity, right? You could go really all out with this; you could do the whole "golfing" mechanic where you hold down the spacebar , and if you let go at the right time it'll cast in the right direction, you'll have a better chance of catching the fish you think are out there, that little shallow part of the water. You could create a whole game out of it, but I always want to be careful about spending too much ... designing time on fishing while taking away from other stuff that is really important like item advancement, things like that.
So it's a baseline place for us to start. ...You have to be in the right place, you have to be equipped with the right equipment, you have to have the right bait to get the kind of fish you're looking for, you have to have the right proficiency over time, and then you basically decide to cast and ... when the fish takes the bait you have an opportunity to catch it or not, depending upon your reflexes. So there's a little bit of twitch involved, but we didn't want to turn it into a full-on arcade game because, first of all, that's certainly not what people want, and second of all, again, it's "where do you want to put your resources?" But, much like music, if it turns out to be something that lots of people are really having a great time with, and feel like they'd be having an even better time turning it into something more robust, we will.