News was made last week as Aaron “Rowan” Campbell announced he is taking over as the Senior Producer of DDO, leaving the LOTRO team without a Senior Producer.  It has neither been confirmed or denied on the LOTRO forums, and similarly, there’s been no mention of what’s going on with Kate Paiz, who last posted in January as the Executive Producer for LOTRO.  There’s a couple of things I wanted to touch on about this news, the obvious and then what I found after a little more digging into things.

I wonder if this is a promotion for Aaron, a lateral move, or a demotion based on what has happened (or rumored to have happened) with LOTRO.  Perhaps I’m wrong, but I always looked at LOTRO as being the bigger title for Turbine as compared to DDO.  Certainly you can read all sorts of things into this move and maybe they’re looking to Aaron to pump some life into DDO or something along those lines.  But the way it was announced – nothing on the LOTRO side and just a short introduction on the DDO forums, seems a little odd.  I would think if they wanted Aaron to carry on his “success,” they would want to pump him up a bit more and set him up a bit better.  Or the flip side, Turbine’s PR does have some issues so maybe they’re just doing their normal fantastic job.  Also, as has been raised elsewhere perhaps Turbine is seeing more competition in the D&D realm with Neverwinter Online and Elder Scrolls Online and they wanted to try and confront that.

With this announcement (or lack thereof) I started looking at other Turbine products checking to see who else was around.  Rumor has it the acclaimed dev Zombie Columbus has been working on Turbine’s MOBA Infinite Crisis for a while now, and he’s been joined by Frelorn and Celestrata per their dev tracker.  Jeffrey Steefel (former Executive Producer for LOTRO) has also been working on IC for a while now.  The only person making posts on the LOTRO side lately has been Sapience, so he’s really the only one confirmed to still be kicking around.  Also, I’ll point out that just because people are working on other titles, there’s nothing that says they’re not still working on LOTRO – they may be some re-use of technology or just a temporary assignment to help smooth out a rough patch.

Perhaps the reason why Turbine hasn’t been very active with regards to LOTRO news is that there’s some shuffling of personnel going on (similar to the recent restructuring of TSW Developer Funcom) and they’re still waiting for the dust to settle.  There’s been a number of interesting discussions on the official and unofficial forums, but in recent typical LOTRO fashion, nothing official from Turbine.

No matter what’s going on, I expect we’ll here something from Turbine this week about something ;)  It has been rumored that the new forums will launch this week, and on the optimistic side we could get something regarding the Helm’s Deep expansion.  I’ve been waiting for a while now for the pre-order announcement in conjunction with the closed beta start date announcement, so the end of the week would be the soonest I would expect something along those lines.  That Helm’s Deep announcement might be made by either the new producer, or Paiz, which either way would be a logical time to lay out and discuss the future of LOTRO.

What do folks make of these changes, and when do you expect to here something more about Helm’s Deep?