Why did the chicken cross the Lone-Lands?

As jokes go, the punchline to this is going to be a huge letdown. So let’s make like an goblin raiding party and move swiftly on.

The recent news about the forthcoming “session play” was greeted with mixed feelings amongs the community, not least this one. While the introduction of player Trolls and Rangers in the Ettenmoors PvP zone was understood, there remained a big “why?” with respect to the introduction of player controlled chickens.

In an interview with GameSpy, Creative Director Cardell Kerr gives a little bit more of an insight into the thinking behind this decision, amongst other musings on the games future:

Chicken play is an experimental prototype for the eventual inclusion of other time-limited Monster-play type classes in the game’s PvE zones. “This all started because we were thinking about a monster-play style quest in which the player plays as a wounded orc trying to get back to his camp after the attack on Trestlebridge,” Kerr said. The problem, according to Kerr, was figuring out how to control the presence of evil player characters outside of the Ettenmoors in PvE zones. This is an issue the development team has been wrestling with for a long time and it’s one he admits that the team hasn’t figured out how to solve….Chicken play is the first step in figuring this out.

So there we have it. Let the discussion commence.

14 thoughts on “Why did the chicken cross the Lone-Lands?”

  1. They should have just come right out and said they wanted to Beta a concept on the live servers, instead of giving the community the impression that they were spending development time and money on creating rediculous mini-games that fall so far outside of the lore.

    I for one am happy to help test a feature that could potentially better the game, but play as a chicken, seriously? If they plan to introduce Monster Play more broadly, I would be thrilled by that.

  2. Sorry, my contribution is still “Dude! Chicken! LOL!” The Lord of the Rings Online™: Shadows of Angmar™ – Chicken Play®: The Rooster Adventure©. Play it today!

  3. Its all fun and games until the Loremasters stage a class protest to crash the server and we have 12000 chickens jumping up and down outside of the Prancing Pony…

  4. I think there is a lot of potential for fun to come out of these ideas, but potential is never short of supply in the MMO industry. Can Turbine make something of this? Time will tell. The rate of content addition is impressive, but even still it’s not fast enough for some people. This could become one of those games that steadily adds more people like EVE Online is doing. They just need to believe in their vision and keep the game going. Eventually, if it keeps getting better people will take notice.

  5. “The problem, according to Kerr, was figuring out how to control the presence of evil player characters outside of the Ettenmoors in PvE zones. This is an issue the development team has been wrestling with for a long time and it’s one he admits that the team hasn’t figured out how to solve”

    Granted, what I’m going to say it’s a snipe, and an inaccurate snipe at that, but still… they don’t have internal test servers for this kind of thing?

  6. @Julian: I think there is a big difference between a test server and one exposed the the general player-base. They could never test for the things the players come up with sometimes. Perhaps they are referring to dealing with an evil player character exposed to the rest of the players and the problems involved with that, considering it’s PvE.

  7. Julian, if internal test servers were capable of detirming community impact, blanace, pve vs. pvp implications, gauge the effects of exploits, bugs and every creative griefing MMO players can come up with, then we would never, ever see a game tweaking mechanics after a live release or patch…

    I think creating a beast that can have absolutly no impact on the game world in a meaningful way, in order to test the idea on live servers, and possible provide some players with a moicum of amusement at the same time, is a brilliant development tool in the industry, and quite frankly is as far as I know, and industry first.

    My main gripe is that they didn’t just come right out and say, TEST OUR GAME, AND PLAY A CHICKEN AT THE SAME TIME! Instead they passed it off as a serious content update instead of a player-driven development tool, which it appears they always indented it to be.

  8. >They should have just come right out and said they wanted to Beta a concept on the live servers, instead of giving the community the impression that they were spending development time and money on creating rediculous mini-games that fall so far outside of the lore.

    Agreed. It seems to be pretty much common knowledge now that mmo’s are such a work in progress that players are pretty much testing content 24/7.

  9. Ethic & Cyndre: Yeah, I understand that. But what I’m saying is that the chicken is testing nothing of the sort. As far as I know it exists in a completely different layer that only touches the game as far as the fact that both chicken and non-avian population exist in the same world.

    Chickens can’t talk with non-avian players, can’t target them, cannot be targeted, can’t interact in any way, do not share the same quests, do not have the same objectives, etc. At no point in the game a regular player will need a chicken player to get past something, or to get to a point where a chicken skill is needed. Basically, they exist in separate layers.

    That’s why the chicken is not ‘testing’ anything other than the ability for one player to switch models and a gameplay mode. That’s all. Cyndre, you mention community impact, balance, pve/pvp implications, exploits, etc… and those are concerns when what you’re trying to do exists in the same layer as the rest of things in your game (Horde in Westfall, for example). But as far as the LOTRO game world and normal gameplay, the chickens might as well not exist for all the impact they’ll have. So they’re not testing anything that you mentioned. The chicken simply doesn’t affect those things.

    What I think is going on is that they’re backtracking over their own design, and they know it, and all this is a feeler to get the playerbase ready for free range pvp, something they said they’d never do. But I think they thought it over (or maybe they were told to think it over from upstairs), and rather than just opening the gates of the Ettenmoors and let the orcs come out, they’re testing the waters with this.

    They say so themselves: “The problem, according to Kerr, was figuring out how to control the presence of evil player characters outside of the Ettenmoors in PvE zones. This is an issue the development team has been wrestling with for a long time and it’s one he admits that the team hasn’t figured out how to solve”

    Why would one even want to figure out how to control evil PCs outside of the Ettenmoors if you’re not planning to eventually let them out? And it’s not that they haven’t ‘figured out how to solve’ the problem. There are quite a few, quite mature MMOs out there that solved the problem just fine. All they need to do is look. Even WoW, which is pretty much LOTRO’s blueprint of sorts, had it solved. It’s not about solving the problem. I think what they’re trying to figure out is how to break it to their playerbase; the fact that they made a boo-boo by not including free range pvp from the get go (as much as I may dislike pvp, it was a boo-boo), and they want to put it in now because they’re bleeding players.

    Mark my words if you want. In 2008 you’re gonna have orcs running around free and vanilla pvp as we all know it. I’m not saying it’s good or bad. And I’m not even saying it’s a good or bad decision. I’m just that the chicken is not testing anything that can’t be tested in-house.

  10. “they made a boo-boo by not including free range pvp from the get go”

    I absolutely believe that they’re not going to ever introduce open pvp in LOTRO. From what I recall (and I may endeavour to find the quote when I can be bothered) this stipulation is part of their license agreement and not something that Turbine decided on a whim.

    Also, if they were looking to have open PvP and orcs running around interacting with players then do you really think they’d go to such lengths to introduce a system that, by design, has little to no impact on players in the PvE world? I can’t think what else to infer from the quote

    The team plans to monitor chicken play closely, watching how players react to it, what they try to do in PvE zones with their chicken characters and figuring out the best ways to limit the experience so as not to impinge on humanoid players doing PvE content

    I doubt they’d have any issues with breaking this news to the playerbase – after all, they didn’t use kid gloves when they about-turned on raids and raid gear.

  11. Bwork!

    Clucking heck! Me and the girls nearly scrambled our eggs when we read this. Chickens v trolls? OK OK, the rangers we can take (oh come on guys, you can take a yolk surely) but we’re not going to stand around and let ourselfves get stuffed by the servants of Angmar.

    Even if they DO bring sage and onion and ask nicely.

    I think there will be a lot of fowl play but in the end, when Turbine’s chicken’s come home to roost, we’ll see that this thing was, on the whole, a bit of a horses egg.

  12. I KNEW IT. Chickens are actually evil. I have been telling people this for years but no one believes me! Instead they just keep eating more and more chickens, absorbing the evil into themselves. soon i will have to purge it all … purge! Puuuuuuuuurge!

    oh what? where am i? um, what was I saying?

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