Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More from Jeff Steefel

Here's some more info on the classes and things we can expect in Moria. They both sound kinda innovative so I'm actually a bit interested to play them. Not your ho-hum MMO classes at all.
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Of course, Steefel and company will be pushing the boundaries of Session Play and Live Events much further in Moria. It was still too early for him to speculate on a release date, but he did have a lot to say about the new classes that will debut in Moria, the Runekeeper and the Warden. Both will introduce entirely new gameplay mechanics to LotRO's class roster and offer a "snappier" and more immediate feel.

The Runekeeper will be the first magic-using class in LotRO - "in and of itself a breath of relief for many players who were wanting that kind of unabashed magic in the game, and a cause for stomach churning for people who are really into the lore that think we're going to suddenly turn it into flying wizards and stuff like that," Steefel said. But more interesting is a new "attunement" mechanic that will allow Runekeepers the flexibility to switch between fully offensive and defensive rules, even within the same encounter. More succinctly put, "the Runekeeper is really interesting because it is a gameplay that can be tuned in real time."

Most hybrid classes encourage players to specialize in either damage-dealing or healing through their choices in gear and talents. But the Runekeeper's "specialty" will depend on the player's choice of spells during an encounter. Choosing damage dealing spells will increase the power of subsequent offensive spells and limit the effectiveness of healing spells, and vice versa. Out of combat, the Runekeeper goes back to a sort of "hybrid equilibrium" where both schools are available. Steefel elaborated, "you have an actual 'attunement bar' that's a special part of your UI that allows you to manage this balance between one side and the other - almost a yin and a yang - and you can't do both at once." This ability to slowly transition between roles should make for some interesting raid encounters in Moria.

The other class that Moria will introduce, the Warden, employs a combo system similar to the Fellowship Maneuvers that groups of players can activate mid-fight. By stringing together a group of abilities, the Warden will have access to special "macro" skills. Like the Runekeeper, the Warden's role incorporates elements of more pure offensive and defensive classes. "The way that Cardell Kerr, our Creative Director, likes to describe him is that he's like the local beat cop of Middle earth ... he has this kind of utility about him," Steefel said.

Finally, Steefel talked about one of the major changes Turbine is making to LotRO's Trait system. In it's current form it offers players a ton of flexibility, but the developers were concerned that the game lacked clear upgrade paths for players to follow if they wanted to pursue a certain specialty. In Moria, Turbine will be adding a mechanic called "Trait Sets" which will allow players to gain additional bonuses by pursuing a specific upgrade path. "They're class based, and depending on your class, you'll have different sets available to you, and by getting certain traits and equipping them properly, you get to this complete set, and that gives you a set of macro bonuses and extra stats," Steefel said. It's another way for players to maximize their characters' abilities, and another reason to look forward to entering the Mines of Moria.

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