Thursday, July 9, 2009

A-teams, live teams, and LoTRO

In the comments to a post over at Kill Ten Rats, Psychochild linked this article at Elder Game. It's a great read, and I think it yields some insight into what we are seeing in LoTRO right now.

There has been a noticeable shift in design philosophy in LoTRO since MoM launched. The most visible culprit being the radiance system. There have also been a lot of odd experiments, some of which worked out well (e.g., letting designers from DDO create new three man instances that feature puzzles) and some of which frankly haven’t (e.g., the first iteration of the Lothlorian gift box system). We are also seeing a lot more bugs creep into patches than we are used too. Finally, we know that Turbine has gotten a lot of outside funding for one or two “secret projects” that they are going full steam ahead on.

All of these observations indicate that a new team is likely in charge of LoTRO these days, and that the "A team" that designed it is off doing something else. It's also very likely that some of the more experienced "live team" devs from DDO have been been brought over to try and take up slack from the departure of the A team. As an aside, the major revamp of DDO that is underway also implies that fresh blood is likely in charge of that product these days.

I don't see the fact that a new team is running the show as a bad thing in of itself. It does mean that we are likely going to continue to see surprising design decisions come down the pipe, as well as slightly buggier patches than we got in the SoA days. However, bugs in patches don't bother me as long as they get fixed quickly. And surprises can be good or bad.


  1. Nice catch tying this article to LotRO. I think you're the only blogger that wrote something more than "Here's this great link!"

    Mines of Moria launched to pretty big fanfare. I know that's why I got into the game more than my prior attempts. It's so weird seeing these missteps that the patches have made. Considering both LotRO and AC are Turbine games, it just goes to show how hard live team development can be.

  2. Complement much appreciated!

    To be fair several others have noticed what I was talking about. You can see that if you follow all the links. I was just the first (only?)one to blog about it in detail.

    Hardcore Casual also has a post up about the post I linked now (how the hell awkward is that phrase?), where he complains that successful MMOs allow inexperienced teams to make major changes to successful products.

    And yeah, I agree. The major missteps we have seen since MoM launched are totally out of character for Turbine.