Fate of Gundabad, the latest expansion from The Lord of the Rings Online, has been out for almost a month and we’d love to know a little more about its making. We chatted with Executive Producer Rob Ciccolini at Standing Stone Games about the Dwarf-themed MMO expansion.
MMORPG.com: The Legendary Item Improvement feels like a rough start. How has it been since it’s been released into the wild for a bit, and how do you imagine the system will evolve over time to ensure that there won’t be a need for a full overhaul, at least for the time being? earliest time?
Rob Ciccolini, Executive Producer: We have launched a large amount Legendary item system update with Update 30.3 a few weeks ago and it is rolling out new features both in Update 31 and above. In particular, we have a Legendary Item bonus coming soon and we are working on some improvements for the future. We’ve heard from players who appreciate that the new system is easier and easier to use, and many players also appreciate the buffs. We look forward to seeing this system continue to evolve in the future. A few of the things we’ve heard from you are a desire to smooth out collisions in the user interface and early learning workflow, so we’ll take a look at that.
One of the main design goals when we updated the Legendary Item system was to build a platform that could be tweaked for years to come, and the new Legendary Item system does just that. The system itself has more ways for developers to make balance changes and improvements, so we can adapt to the current game environment more quickly. The system itself was built with no overhaul in mind.
MMORPG.com: Gundabad – can you talk about the inspiration to bring the Dwarfs back to the Mountain- hometown? Do you think Iron Garrison’s fate plays a role in wanting to give the Dwarves another shot in regaining their lost ancestral home?
RC: I actually asked one of the storytellers to help answer this question, as Jeff Libby was directly involved in inspiring the story of Gundabad Destiny. He told me that most of the success Iron Garrison had achieved in Khazad-dûm during the expansion of Mines of Moria was fleeting, and that the books themselves also said that the dwarves would not regroup inhabited Khazad-dûm until the Fourth Age, when Durin the VII led them to victory. But we approached Gundabad with an idea of what would happen if that failure spurred another expedition and provided the impetus needed to lay the groundwork for the final recapture of Moria in the Fourth Era. ? What better and more meaningful achievement could there be for the dwarves and for Durin, son of Thorin Stonehelm, than the successful restoration of the Mountain house? If it works, of course. If they fail, then… let’s hope they don’t! They will need heroes to help them, I suppose.
MMORPG.com: How to make this journey for Dwarfs over the past few years? How written for dwarves different from making stories around Elves or Men, or even Hobbit?
RC: We’ve seen quite a few dwarves lately, it’s true! Much of the Book of Epics Volume IV takes place in Gondor and focuses on the human world, so we wanted to turn our attention with the Black Book to Mordor and the regions it has traveled through, especially Mount She singles, Iron Hills, and Gray Mountains, all of which have fairly specific stories about dwarves. We’ve worked hard to prove that dwarves like everyone have different interests and personalities. The story authors tell me that their writing is informed by context but writing for dwarves and elves, for example, is very similar because the focus is often on what’s important to people, what they love and feel about the situation they find themselves in.
MMORPG.com: What is the story behind these Crystal Wargs and the fire that damaged Gundabad?
RC: The broken crystals were first found outside the gates of Gundabad, scattered among enemies in Elderslade. An Angmarin witch named Brágha Fellwinder discovered a way to increase the power and ferocity of already monstrous Wargs. The power of these crystals also has the side effect of driving Wargs and Men crazy, and there’s even more corruption and horror in Clovengap. You as the player are helping someone investigate the power of the crystals, find the source of the corruption and stop it before this madness takes over the world.
MMORPG.com: One of the most interesting dynamics I’ve found since the start of the quest sequence leading up to Gundabad is the conflict between the Longbeards, Stout-Axes, and Zhelruka. The importance of showing that although the races of Good can fight evil in the world (a la Sauron and his followers), it does not necessarily mean that it is a harmonious union ? It’s an interesting dynamic and isn’t really based on the movies, which make up the majority of your mind-share with your casual fans.
RC: Although we base the fantasy story of Middle-earth often on the question of what will happen when the terrorist at the end of the world is finally defeated. The world has been saved, but harmony is not guaranteed, and the sudden absence of a once-unified force causes ripples. We found the tension between the dwarves more realistic and fertile ground for storytelling.
MMORPG.com: With the level cap inching higher and higher, do you think a level could be here soon? Or do you simply visualize the number of levels continuing to increase?
RC: We currently do not have a plan for the squaring as you describe. Doing something like that would probably equate to a major release cycle, so if we chose to pursue something like that, it would involve a redesign of the level expansion system. new, actual content adjustments and tutorials, and more.
MMORPG. What it’s like to go back and create even more regions with the Dwarves – as well as showing an area that was once the shining jewel of Dwarf society now decaying and rotting thanks to the evil that now reigns keep it?
RC: One of the most exciting things about working on Gundabad is that we were able to take back the blueprint we had laid out during the day with Moria for a huge underground city and then modernize it by applying our new methods and sensitivities into space. Each section will shine as a separate area; Mattugard is fairly pristine but other segments have fallen into disrepair, and places like Deepscrave have been overrun by orcs. The Clovengap represents wild nature, and the Rocky Pit has enemies moving in and establishing their own fortress.
MMORPG.com: Brawler. Did you talked a lot about this and now players have had a chance to test it out for a few weeks now. What’s the response like here, and do you expect such a long delay between classes (ie the gap between Beorning and Brawler is now seven years)?
RC: We try not to predict the future, but we’d be surprised if it took a long time between Brawler and the next class we release someday. We’ll be spending more time with Brawler in the coming months fixing some bugs and addressing their DPS, for example. Feedback on Brawler is positive and players seem to enjoy their Brawler through the game.
MMORPG.com: Can you talk a little bit about raiding construction in Gundabad? A dragon? I mean, we faced each other in Draigoch, so how do you get over it?
RC: The upcoming raid focuses on the growing conflict between the Dwarves of Gabil’akkâ and Hrímil Frost-heart for control of Mount Gundabad. Hrimil and Draigoch couldn’t be more different. Draigoch is a powerful dragon just like Smaug, but he is mostly content with his wealth. Hrimil lore had served in Morgoth’s army during the First Age and managed to escape the Dark Lord’s eventual downfall. She was captured and imprisoned by Karazgar when Sauron came to power in the Third Age, but escaped after Sauron’s defeat and returned to the North to seek dominion over the lands lost to her, specifically is Mount Gundabad, which she has claimed as her lair and sole domain.
When the player first encountered her during the Anvil of Winterstith raid in Update 23, they obtained a sudden and temporary victory, but she is now wiser to the threat posed by Prince Durin and the others. His allies cause her rule and she will hold back nothing! We have a lot of surprises in store for the raid.
MMORPG.com: How does Gundabad compare to Minas Morgul in terms of its size and scope of content?
RC: From a narrative perspective, the Minas Morgul expansion comes with four chapters of the Black Book of Mordor (and an epilogue), but it’s fairly split between Mordor Besieged and Imlad Morgul; As a result, the main story seems to be told in two smaller halves. Gundabad arrives with seven chapters of The Legacy of Durin and The Trial of the Dwarves, all of which take place in and around Mountain-home, providing a similar feel to last year’s major expansions, like Mines of Moria. (six chapters of Epic Story). Gundabad is huge, but most importantly it is very diverse. It was really important for us to keep it from feeling too similar, both to Moria before it and from region to region within Gundabad itself.
https://www.mmorpg.com/interviews/interview-talking-fate-of-gundabad-with-lotros-executive-producer-2000123775 Interview: Telling Gundabad’s Fate to LotRO’s Executive Producers