I think I’ve written and deleted this post at least half a dozen times as I’ve really been struggling with this of late.  As a bit of a back-story, I was incredibly upset with how some people handled the recent “Troll” post and I struggled with how I wanted to handle it.  I’ve taken quite a bit more time then normal as I just couldn’t come up with a way to accomplish something useful, without just ranting about someone else’s work.  I’m sure some will be able to figure out what I’m actually referring to, but hopefully this is broad enough that no one takes it too personally.  And if you do, just be happy I didn’t post what I originally wrote.

The core of my concern was that the “Troll” post could (and was) be taken as either a total troll post, or as a joke and just as quickly dismissed without too much more discussion.  Taking one of those view-points and discussing it purely on that concept is doing exactly what you shouldn’t do on the internet – Feed the Trolls, not to mention wasting peoples time  However, if you actually want to dive into some of the questions that were raised in that post, then you can actually start shifting the discussion to something that could benefit the entire community.

The overarching question raised in the “Troll” post surrounds Turbine’s lack of communication with the community.  And we’re not talking things regarding game balance or other tough questions but relatively cut and dry questions, things like do you have a license for the Hobbit?  When do the licenses expire?  What does Turbine gain from NOT answering these kinds of questions, if anything they’ re fueling the fire for the conspiracy theorists?  Now based of of their horrible handling of the past two expansions, I can sort of understand why we haven’t heard anything about Helm’s Deep, but why not at least continue the discussion by tossing out dates when we might hear something, instead of childishly teasing the community that they know something we don’t know.  Some people claim Turbine has never talked about things openly, and while there certainly has been limits it has become even more closed off in recent history.  And while they may historically not talk about things, why not try to shake things up a bit?  Dismissing the argument purely based on the history is passively accepting whatever Turbine wants to put out, and not actively asking for more as a customer.

I have a feeling that there’s some serious pressure over at Turbine and they’re at a real crossroads with the LOTRO franchise.  It has been making money for them, but we haven’t heard any sort of “ra ra” news from them in a long while.  Nothing regarding sales numbers, activity, expansion pack orders, etc. and before you chime in that Turbine doesn’t share that, they will when it is good news.  They were quick to point out how big a success the F2P transition was and how awesome the Isengard XPack sold.  Personally I feel that Rohan sold significantly less copies then Isengard and Turbine is trying to figure out how to best position Helm’s Deep to right that ship.  If you look at some the only updated source of speculative data (Rohan launched at week 121), there’s no significant jump with Rohan like there have been at other times.  While Rohan had some cool pieces, it didn’t splash big enough or in a big enough pool to really make enough of a difference.  Another area Rohan missed the mark was their pre-order as there just wasn’t anything worthwhile for many people, and again I think that’s why they’re “delaying” the announcement as they want to make sure it comes off better then Rohan.  The inclusion of level 10 “content” is a direct attempt to not restrict the Helm’s Deep buying pool to people at level cap like Rohan did.  However, I think a bigger issue for them of late has been the complaints that there hasn’t been enough meat to justify the price points, and the handling of instance clusters has been a significant sticking point as well.  But here’s where Helm’s Deep is in a tricky spot, they’re also unleashing the class apocalypse (aka skill trees) and the complete revamp of every class is quite a daunting task that coupled with not only creating new group content for but also verifying all existing group content would be a massive effort that would require an extended testing period.  And of course, added into all of this is the horrid job Turbine has been doing lately with rolling things out without breaking unrelated items or just having to take multiple passes to actually fix something causes additional delays.  And again, we still don’t have information on whether things have been truly addressed (launcher) or why certain issues appear to not be correctly resolved (retroactive Wildermore deed rewards).   Another opportunity for Turbine to get ahead of things would be this new forum system we’re rolling to at some  point, as it sure would be nice to have some idea of whether or not there will be better security for these forums, or if we’ll still be tied to using the same user name and password as our live accounts.  Again, we know very little about these new forums other then “they look cool,” and not anything like “we’ve heard your issues” and this is what we’re trying to do to resolve them.  Overall, there’s a ton of things Turbine needs to be worried with and it seems as though they’re taking the ostrich path as opposed to having some level of communication.

Turbine appears to be trying to sweep certain things under the rug, and with their ability to pull things off their forums whenever and however they want, it falls to the community to attempt to keep them honest.  There are a couple of places that do this, the main one being the unofficial forums, but at times they get a little too “tin-foil hat” for my liking.  Unfortunately there seems to be either the all is well forums, or the tin-foil hat community site, without too much in the middle.  I haven’t been posting too much of late due to other restrictions on my schedule (new baby and new job) but I have been trying to seed others with information in hopes that they could pick up the slack.  However, it is evident that either they don’t want to or are afraid to burn any bridges so I will be reverting back to more activity here.  I can’t promise too much, but it is pretty easy for me to say that I’ll post more – simply because I really haven’t been posting.  But I’m going to try to post more questions and thoughts about the news and really not talk about things that are just information, or where I don’t see anything of interest to talk about.  I’ll also toss out the offer to folks that I’m more then happy to post thoughts or articles on subjects if you’d like another voice and don’t want to deal with forums.

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I’m not doing this purely to bash LOTRO or Turbine or to get any enjoyment of such activity.  I truly do love this game and the community (for the most part) that has grown with this game.  I feel that with the all that has happened lately the community is in a bit of flux, and I want to try and do what I can to support and foster this community.  I personally don’t feel that there have been enough folks challenging Turbine but far to many either parroting them or making wild baseless accusations and not enough rational, thought out, and properly researched discussions.  That’s what I’m working to better provide for the community, and of course this will not be limited to just Turbine.