Friday, April 10, 2009

...To Rohan?

Continuing from my previous post, we're now going to speculate on the next major (as in not free) content update. As I said before, the most probable course in my opinion is to continue down the Anduin river, following the Fellowship's path Southeast. For the sake of this post, we're going to assume that I'm right (a lovely fantasy for me).

With the area Southeast of Lorien now filled in, it leaves a perfect opening to zip back west and continue Southward to Rohan. In my mind, we can expect the boundaries of the next expansion to include Fangorn (all the way up to bordering the Lorien area), and all the way West to the Gap of Rohan (including Isengard). I can see the developers still using the Anduin as the Eastern border, probably including Amon Hen at the Southeasternmost point of the expansion.

An interesting question now comes up. The only basis we have for the size of a major update is Moria. This is a pretty tough scale to use because it's extremely dificult to compare underground area to above-ground area. So in this speculation, I'm also going to take a stab at saying that the expansion will continue Southward until it hits the White Mountains. I'm not certain about that though.

The final thing I want to mention are two areas that have been largely looked over (by us at least, hopefully not by the devs). South of the Shire and the Lone Lands and the Trollshaws is a huge place called Cardolan. Briefly, it was a country that contained (among other things) the fortress of Amon Sul, and it was a key player in the long war with Angmar in the Second Age.

South of that is another area called Enedwaith. Originally this was a huge forested area, but the Numenorians in the Second Age as well as the War of the Elves and Sauron decimated most of the landscape. The Old Forest is one of the very few remnants of it's former glory. However, it's south-eastern portion apparently (accoring to Tolkien's writings) remains "well-wooded", but it's mostly grassland now. Some surviving traits are the ruins of Tharbad, an ancient city that was wiped out by floods in the late Third Age, and two groups of people: the Dunlendings in the east parts, and to the west, "fairly numerous but barbarous fisher-folk" on the coast of Belegaer (the sea).

These two areas seem (to me at least) to be an interesting opportunity for Turbine to use it's creative talent to give us some new and fairly open gameplay (akin to what Rohan will be). Both areas seem to be flat and wide, which should compliment the expansion nicely. When will we see these new areas? Probably not until at least after the Rohan expansion, but if you look at the map when they're done it will round out the world nicely.

10 comments:

  1. Creative talent is all well and good, but this is still a licensed MMO - the stuff where characters actually spent time in the books is the stuff that's going to get people excited enough to move boxes. My theory is that we'll see a Mirkwood/Dale expansion after Rohan, to take advantage of the hype surrounding the new Hobbit film in 2011, but time will tell.

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  2. I totally forgot the money aspect of all this, along with the movie. But the movie doesn't take place until 2 years from now, so there's time to fill in in the mean time.

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  3. I think you're right about Rohan being the next expansion and it's possible we'll see movement back into Eriador with the free book updates after it, but the supreme guiding principle with the movement of this game is following the Fellowship. I think we were lucky to get the movement north to Evendim and then Forochel because of the long hiatus in Rivendell. Both in terms of lore and the development time. The duration between release and Mines of Moria was a year and a half. The duration between Moria and the next expansion is planned to be 1 year. That's not a lot of time considering the first free update hit just a few weeks ago and November is 1 year since Moria. That's at most two more free updates. Not much time to put in landscape additions if the world team is trying to get Rohan (assumed) ready. So, I find it unlikely we'll see movement back into Eriador.

    Now, regarding an expansion into the Hobbit territory to utilize the hype behind the movies. While it makes some business sense, I'm not sure it makes story sense seeing as the current schedule of expansions puts us on the far side of the map at the time of the movie's release. We'll be in the thick of the War of the Ring on Sauron's doorstep in 2011. A detour to the Lonely Mountain and such would be a nonsequitur at that point.

    I'll also comment here about your previous post on the next free expansion. I don't think dismissing Dol Gildur is a good idea. We've passed Moria as the big threat (analogous to Angmar at release) but have yet to really take on Isengard which will come with Rohan. What does that leave? Dol Gildur. I see it as a Goblin Town type of focus but with a bit more punch, considering its history and that it would require a full zone landscape addition - but here's where I have to argue against it. Not for its story and design merits, but rather because of what I said earlier about the time crunch.

    Breaking the topic slightly, I actually think the 1 year between expansions might be a too-strenuous schedule to keep. And I'd rather see some time taken between if it means we can get greater polish on the current game in the form of more smaller landscape additions to flush out the world and major system improvements (say housing for example).

    Okay, I've given you an essay, I'll stop now. :)

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  4. I agree with much of what you and Jaxom have said. I absolutely agree that the next paid expansion will be Rohan and I'd be shocked it it wasn't titled LOTRO: "The Riders of Rohan".

    I agree with Jaxom that the proposed one-paid-expansion-per-year schedule might have been a bit optimistic on Turbine's part. I'd expect us to see three more free content updates before we see RoR. I think part of these will focus on Dol Guldur, the threat introduced in the latest books of MoM; and part will deal with following the fellowship down the Anduin to Parth Galen where the Fellowship will be broken, signaling the end of both The Fellowship of the Ring (the book) and LOTRO Vol 2.

    I have no idea how they're going to handle the split action that follows the breaking of the fellowship!

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  5. Yes, the breaking of the fellowship is the monkey wrench in the gears. I suspect that we will follow Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas (and eventually Merry and Pippin) rather than Sam and Frodo since who they meet on the way to Mordor after the breaking is explicitly talked about. We can interact with the rest of the fellowship in Rohan fairly easily without disrupting the canon.

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  6. Rohan is most assuredly the next expansion. Type in www.ridersofrohan.com into your web browser and see where it takes you. :D

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  7. We can always hope, but atleast it was not This years expansion pack mwahahaah

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