Thanks to the folks over at CStM for pointing out a recent interview on the Ten Ton Hammer Live podcast with Executive Producer and Director of Communication for LOTRO.

There is some normal marketing fluff to the interview on the transition and how they’re doing, but they certainly do point towards a big 2011 for LOTRO.  A good portion of the initial discussion on on the transition and the stigma of F2P as the LOTRO community really has rallied around the game to help combat those perceptions.

I pulled a few things from this interview, first up will be the health and growth of LOTRO.  The monthly revenue for LOTRO has TRIPLED since the F2P launch, which is a huge boost.  We’ve started to see this returned to the players as they’ve boosted their community team by 40% and I think we’ll see a number of things roll out to the community as the year progresses.

Some talk regarding the lack of content that has hit LOTRO of late, and while Kate danced around the question a bit she did re-iterate the massive behind the scenes revamp that had to go on to implement the transition as they had to deal with the store, instance scaling, as well as the newbie area revamps.  She did follow that up with the statement that they’re not only focusing on the newbie areas but the entire community as a whole, as evident by the fact that they’re not only leveraging in-game data but pulling metrics from the store to really help guide the game.  I’m all for pulling data from the store as it is a huge additional resource to them, in addition to things like the beta programs, forums, blogs, etc they already pull from.

There was also talk about the future content coming to LOTRO, and I’m going to discuss this in terms of 2011 and not the order they covered them in the interview.  They did drop some nice hints for the first quarter release we knew was coming:

  • Cosmetic system revisions
    • mainly in the character panel and some user interface tweaking
  • Epic line advancement in this update
    • Probably a book or possibly 2
  • New instance cluster plus a raid
  • 1st Age Legendary Items

Part of me was a little worried as I really thought much of this would be spread out over the year, but I’m still very optimistic that we’ll see a couple more interim releases between Q1 and Isengard.  This now becomes a MUCH bigger release then I was expecting as it will not only be a raid cluster, but story, and system changes too.  This would be probably the largest non-expansion release since Book 11 way back in the Shadows of Angmar days that introduced Annuminas.  There’s also other tidbits already released regarding the removal of radiance with this instance cluster.  Now there’s also been talk of a Legendary Item revamp, which I’m not sure if they’ll include with the 1st Age Weapons, or if that will come later.

Looking past that update, they did mention some other items including cosmetic pets and cosmetic items.  They also have all the class feedback to implement improvements like the Loremaster and Runekeeper just received.  There’s a lot of time between Q1 and Isengard, and my guess is they want to get this Q1 update out the door and then see what else they can implement while working on Isengard.  I’m still expecting another story update and system update before Isengard.

And of course, there was some discussion about the Isengard expansion:

  • Content will include
    • Isengard
    • Tower of Orthanc
    • Surrounding Vale
    • Dunland
    • Southern Enedwaith
    • Gap of Rohan
  • Following the story as the rangers travel to join Aragorn in Rohan
  • Growing strength of Saruman’s forces and the Orc factories
  • Level cap increase
  • It will be a paid expansion available to all subscriber levels.

When you look at a map, this area looks quite a bit larger then the small area of Mirkwood we’ve seen.  This amount of landmass really puts it squarely between Moria and Mirkwood with regards to content, which should make folks feel better about the game direction.  And this doesn’t even touch on the PvP revamp coming as well with Isengard.

And of course, they did also tease us with the notion that they’re actively thinking and planning for how to incorporate the Battle of Helm’s Deep into the game, which will come later on with Rohan.  I believe they might have mentioned next year, but that could just be my wishful thinking.  I have no clue how they’re going to pull that off, but I can’t wait!

Overall it was an interesting interview, still lots of un-answered questions but some really surprising  comments pulling together the various fragments we’ve seen previously.