Did Turbine Plan Mirkwood?

I was completely sold on the idea of Rohan being Lotro’s next expansion. The main evidence of this proposed expansion was the registration of the URL “RidersofRohan.com”. Registered way back by Tokien Enterprises on April of 2006 and set to re-direct any visits to lotro.com. It was as good as a confirmation of the next expansion.

Two years later, in the summer of 2008, Tolkien Enterprises registered the following URLs: “siegeofGondor.com”, “treasonofIsengard.com”, “corsairsofUmbar.com” and “firesofMordor.com”.

But now we are told the next expansion is just a “mini-expansion” available only as a digital download. What is more interesting is the URL. Unlike the rest, it was only registered a mere nine days before Mirkwood was announced. Perhaps someone might think the late registration was a factor of increased secrecy, but I doubt it. It smells of a rush-job.

I believe Turbine ran out of time and resources to make Rohan before the end of the year. They delayed announcing Rohan because they were not sure if they could make it in time. As the clock ticked, they found themselves being faced with both having to develop a new raid in Book 9 for Dol Guldor as well as Rohan. They could announce Rohan for early 2010, but that would be immediately met with outcry regarding their promise to have one expansion per year.

Instead, they decided to delay Rohan even further back and beef-up book 9 enough to call it an expansion, if only a mini-expansion. After-all, how can people be upset about the delay of an expansion they never officially announced?

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Suzina

Suzina is a 27 year old who usally plays the same MMOs as her husband. Games played: UO, EQ2, FFXI, SWG, LOTRO.

12 thoughts on “Did Turbine Plan Mirkwood?”

  1. That’s a very sound theory.

    I’m of the firm opinion that this is an attempt to pull end-game out of Moria so people can leave behind the radiance grind
    (if they so choose) yet still accomplish something. That and a testing ground for some of the new mechanics they’re cooking up.

    This is exactly what I’ve been waiting for to get back into LotRO but I had zero excitement when I read the write-up. That isn’t to say it won’t be good, just that LotRO may be 100% behind me.

    Side note: Loving the Fallen Earth header with the newbie clone sporting the perception gimping 3-D glasses (they provide just as much armor as you’d expect!).

  2. If I’m not mistaken, it was implied several months ago that a lot of the content announced for Mirkwood was going to be part of a free expansion. The raid and the 5 level cap raise certainly had both been mentioned. I think your theory has merit.

  3. I hate to always defend them but I’m personally glad they did what they did, I am usually more interested in getting off the beaten fellowship path and into the more unusual parts of middle earth, especially mysterious places like Mirkwood.

  4. That’s certainly possible. I think that Mirkwood has come because Rohan couldn’t be pushed out for 2009, but I’m not sure it’s as rushed as you make it sound. There’s just too much machinery in motion for it to have been so close. The website registration might have been closer to an afterthought.

    I don’t think I would have been upset over a delay in Rohan should it have been announced and delayed. Rather, I would have been relieved. Knowing the schedule slips for the last two book updates, I’d much prefer to know Rohan is getting a delay for much needed finish and polish than being pushed out prematurely with perhaps serious bugs or half-done content.

    I feel relief just the same with Siege of Mirkwood – knowing that Turbine is both trying to give us something beefy enough to call an expansion (versus free book update) but still sticking to their high quality for Rohan.

  5. This thought has crossed my mind also, but I suspect that the idea of a mini-expansion for Mirkwood was formulated a long time ago. Check out this post by Sapience back in April:

    http://forums.lotro.com/showpost.php?p=3637200&postcount=16

    I suspect the plan for 2010 will be 2 or 3 free updates to establish Volume 3, and then another similar mini-expansion in the fall for something more significant. Could this be Rohan, or will they take us in another direction? North for Hobbit related content perhaps?

  6. @Unwise

    There are two ways to look at that post you link’d. My way was to assume that there would be book 9 AND an expansion.

    After-all, 2008 saw 3 books AND an expansion which started a new volume. 2009 only saw 2 books before Mirkwood was announced.

    I do believe that the epic story line was meant to take us into Dol Guldor all along. What I’m wondering is if Mirkwood was intended to be a free update or not.

  7. @Suzina

    What you suggest is what I predicted back in April also:

    http://pearlsofunwisdom.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/whats-coming-in-lotro/

    For this to be true, we’d have to assume that the development of Rohan (or whatever else was due to be the 2nd full expansion) is well under way, but according to this recent post by Scenario…

    http://forums.lotro.com/showpost.php?p=3992015&postcount=31

    …they only have a few zones in production currently, one of which is Mirkwood.

    Of course, those other zones could be really huge and fully deserving of being called an expansion, but I’m just finding it difficult to believe that the Mirkwood expansion hasn’t been long planned. It ‘fits’ the facts better than assuming they had to abandon plans for a full expansion at the last minute.

    Perhaps the original plan, back in 2008 when MoM was announced, was to get Rohan ready for this fall, but then they also expected Lothlorien to be ready for MoM release, and DN to be ready for Book 7. My hunch is that back in early 2009 they abandoned any plans to get Rohan ready this year, and changed their focus to expanding Mirkwood instead.

  8. It reminds me a bit of Guild Wars: Eye of the North. So maybe you are right.

    I just wonder how mini such mini expansions are. Compared to the overpriced and rather smallish Fallout 3 DLCs Mirkwood seems to offer quite a lot.

  9. Yeboo is correct, Mirkwood was mentioned by Turbine devs and CMs previously and the context implied it was going to be a content patch.

    I was enthusiastic when I started playing LOTRO (with Moria) in large part because I thought Turbine was going to be great at updating content on the game. Instead I think I came in just as they began to peter out with it. It’s a good game but a nickle-and-dime purchase right now for me on LOTRO while I was already burned out on their Endgame– This leaves a bad taste in my mouth and I’ve let my subscription slide.

    It seems to me that Turbine is now more interested in microtransactions, but moving to small paid episodic content on a game I previously thought was paid for by my box purchase + subscription? DDO was the right game for that, LOTRO isn’t.

  10. Sorry Yeebo for mis-spelling your name. Keyboard on the iPod Touch sucks and it apparently doesn’t work with KTR’s edit feature either.

  11. Accepting the theory, speculation:
    The tech additions were planned for Rohan, things like skirmishes. The Rohan content was not nearly ready, so they were re-packaged with the next epic book, which is now the next expansion.

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