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Thought for the Day
What did Frodo say when he saw the trees dancing?
"That’s ENT-tertainment!"

Submitted by: Sean F.

LotRO and D&DO have a new publisher!

It looks like Lord of the Rings Online has a new publisher!

http://massivelyop.com/2016/12/29/everquesting-welcome-to-the-daybreak-family-lotro-and-ddo/

Sometimes there's news that just makes you go, "Huh?" At times it happens because said information makes no sense whatsoever; other times it surprises you so thoroughly you have no words as you look around wondering where on earth it came from. Last week we got smacked with the latter. Turbine’s announcement that Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online were breaking off under a new independent studio wasn't so far-fetched, especially with Turbine's professed focus on turning into a mobile studio. I heard that and didn't really bat an eye, I just nodded my head and thought, sure, that makes sense. What was a jaw-dropping surprise was the announcement that Daybreak would be the new publisher. Who ever would have envisioned Norrath and Middle-earth (and Eberron!) becoming family, romping together in the same backyard and sharing a swingset? You never thought they would actually meet. No, we certainly didn't see that coming.

 

But once I had a moment to digest the news and think about it (and after we finished with a few jokes, like Justin's query on whether we should combine our columns to make EverLording), it made sense. And I can see it as a good thing for both parties. (Talking about the pairing of companies, not the columns!) Standing Stone Games and Daybreak both stand to benefit here, meaning their games benefit. Thankfully I don't see any cross-pollination between the IPs, but I do see two studios growing and see two games continuing on instead of being shut down.

 

Lord of the Rings OnlineIt's good for Daybreak

Quite frankly, Daybreak needs a win. It needs to engender goodwill again. And it needs to expand. This move can accomplish all three of those.

Despite what many naysayers trumpet and what some fans fear, Daybreak isn't dead in the water. It may not be riding the crest of the wave that SOE was, but it isn't crawling into Davy Jones' locker, either. However, in business if you aren't growing, you are dying. You know that Daybreak needs to expand -- the question is how that would happen. It certainly doesn't appear to be forthcoming from a development standpoint. EverQuest Next was the big flagship MMO that was taking the company into the future, and it is gone. That doesn't leave much to sail into the future with; the tugboat of an unnamed mobile title isn't going to pull things far. And since a significant portion of the studio's titles live on only in memory (or emulators), that's not much left to work with. So if producing a game is out, what does that leave? Publishing other games. And going with LOTRO and DDO is a smart move.

VanguardHow can this be a win? Not only does the studio expand, but it does so with established games with popular IPs. After the loss of the studio's biggest project and little appearing on the horizon, things did look bleaker for the company. By publishing games, Daybreak adds to its roster -- and infuses revenue and stability into the company, which benefits its established titles like EverQuestEverQuest II, and DC Universe Online! -- without having to pour out all the capital for development on something that may or may not take off. There isn't the level of monetary commitment nor the risk of flopping that comes with developing from scratch. Both LOTRO and DDO are established games with a known track record. Both have an established fan base. It also introduces more people to Daybreak who haven't looked at the studio before. Now, Daybreak just needs to make sure it doesn't do anything to alienate this new crowd!

VanguardThere is no denying that Daybreak is operating under a pretty thick (and deserved) cloud of negative perception. Scrapping much-anticipated games, shuttering others -- folks are understandably apt to harbor disappointment and distrust over things like that. Looking at how many games have closed, you can see why some call the studio They Break Games. However, that is a narrow view of the whole situation that leaves out other facts; some folks seem to have forgotten that as SOE, Daybreak was once known and beloved for keeping games alive. Vanguard is a prime example. If SOE hadn't stepped in, that game would have never seen the light of day let alone offer years of enjoyment to players. It also brought new ideas and systems to the MMOverse. Vanguard introduced decorating on the z axis (which SOE incorporated into its other games), brotherhoods, and working boats that were also living spaces to name a few. To this day I still think Vanguard had the best classes anywhere. Yes, it did eventually shut down, but Vanguard had a much fuller life than it ever would have otherwise, and the MMO landscape is better for it. I am grateful for the time I had in it.

As disappointing as the closing of Free Realms was to all its players, all indications are that the game ran at a loss for such a long time. Daybreak kept it going. Yes, it reached a time when it really was no longer feasible. Watching so many games shutter at once did feel like some doom and gloom, but in retrospect we can better see why it happened as SOE itself was shuttered. But the fact remains that the game remained operating for a long time -- that wouldn't have happened under another studio. And isn't seeing LOTRO and DDO remaining in operation exactly what the fans want? Daybreak is the studio for that.

Dungeons & Dragons OnlineIt's good for LOTRO and DDO

The new partnership isn't one-sided in its benefits; Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online are getting something out of this deal. For one, the games are sticking around! Many LOTRO fans have been on edge for years worrying about the fate of their beloved game. And poor DDO: It has a dedicated playerbase, but do we hear much about it lately? With Turbine's obvious shift away from MMOs, the games' fates looked even more tenuous. However, with Daybreak stepping into the picture, both games have a rosier and more secure future.

Consider the fact that without the Turbine name, the new studio as little clout in the business world.  No one knows Standing Stone Games; it isn't recognizable. Indie studios, even when built with established devs, generally have a tougher time in the market. Name recognition and contacts really do mean quite a bit. With Daybreak as the publisher, Standing Stone has instant established connections. What if devs want to take the game into another market? I am not saying they do, or have any thought on the matter, but Daybreak does have experience publishing in different markets. Those connections can be invaluable.

Lord of the Rings OnlineThe partnership with Daybreak also expands the skill resource pool. The devs that broke off into Standing Stone are devs who develop the game. That is awesome news for continued development! But how many of them are big on marketing? How many are experienced in PR? The chances of a small indie studio being able to fill all the necessary roles to develop and market the games successfully are pretty slim. And face it, many indies fail precisely because of lack of marketing. Daybreak brings that experience to the mix, allowing the devs to focus on the development part that they are good at. This is a good thing. Don't worry so much about Daybreak altering the core substance of these games; as publisher, Daybreak most likely has little say in the development side of things. The pairing just lets LOTRO and DDO keep on keeping on with its own devs while taking advantage of the bigger studio's name recognition and connections. Sounds pretty win/win to me.

Can Daybreak help the games -- especially DDO -- be more visible in the market? I believe so. DDO was barely on my radar for so long I couldn't even recover my original account. Yet when I went back into the game, I really enjoyed myself. That title seems like a likely candidate to be shuttered. If Daybreak can bring the game back into the minds of gamers and entice them to give it another try, it would be a pretty great thing. I am hoping the bigger studio does just that. And that's definitely a win.

How does everyone feel about this?

Also would anyone be interested in ressurecting this site? I'd like to recruit some volunteer admins if you are interested. If you are interested and play LotRO, then send me a PM.

Lord of the Rings Online Starter Pack Giveaway

We're back with a fresh Lord of the Rings Online giveaway!

Begin the ultimate adventure with a Lord of the Rings Online Starter Pack! Ride through Tolkien’s Middle-Earth on your very own steed, and use special boosts and potions to help you start your journey off on the right foot.

Lord of the Rings Online Starter Pack Giveaway

Begin the ultimate adventure with a Lord of the Rings Online Starter Pack! Ride through Tolkien’s Middle-Earth on your very own steed, and use special boosts and potions to help you start your journey off on the right foot.

Lord of the Rings Online: The Breaking of Isengard

On Monday, Lord of the Rings Online released Update 13: The Breaking of Isengard. Owners of the Helm's Deep expansion can embark on a quest to discover what has happened to Saruman after the sacking of Isengard. Additional features include a new mail system, UI customization and size upgrades for inventories, new items in Lalia's market and more!

The recent Producer's Letter also mentioned that the next class to be introduced in LotRO will be the Beorning! You can read the entire letter on the official forums.

The Yule Festival Has Begun!

Lord of the Rings Online's Yule Festival quests and activities have returned to the town of Winter-home. If you complete the festival deeds, you'll earn a reward. The rewards include an exclusive Travel Mount & War-Steed Appearance and new cosmetics. Read more about it after the jump!

Halloween Event Round-ups

Halloween is just around the corner and the spookiest month of the year has brought a wide variety of events to our favorite games. Join us as we explore the details of these frightening events.

Pre-Purchase for Helm's Deep Now Available

Earlier today it was announced that the official launch date of the upcoming Lord of the Rings Online expansion, titled Helm's Deep, will be November 18, 2013. Features include:

  • Experience the Battle for Helm's Deep – Fight to defend Helm’s Deep starting as early as level 10 and earn rewards for your contributions
  • Explore new landscapes across Western Rohan - Explore the Westemnet of Rohan and rally each of the five ridings as Rohan returns to glory. Traverse the capital of Edoras, mysterious Dunharrow, and the fortress of the Hornburg within Helm's Deep.
  • Advance from levels 85 to 95 - Experience 10 new levels, from 85 to 95, with new skills and completely updated class specializations. Both mounted and un-mounted combat will challenge you as you war against the evil forces of Saruman.
  • Continue the Epic Story - Encounter beloved characters such as Aragorn, Éowyn, and Éomer. Restore King Théoden to his rightful throne while you defend the peoples of Rohan at Helm’s Deep.

Lord of the Rings Online: Helm's Deep

Lord of the Rings Online kicked off Helm's Deep beta on Friday, September 5. A wave of invites along with a reminder to not talk about beta were sent out the day prior. Helm's Deep will be the fifth expansion for the game and is expected to launch in Fall 2013.

One of the changes coming to Helm's Deep is to the Trait Tree (pictured here). According to Sapience, the LotRO Community Manager, "The skills on the left unlock as you progress through the trees. They're not gated by Turbine Points."

With class changes incoming, a Developer Diary entry was released regarding the Burglar class. RockX discusses how he focused on making the three roles unique with focused gameplay. Head over to the official site to check out all of the Burglar class changes.

 

Ann "Cyliena" Hosler, Managing Editor

Follow me on Twitter: @Cyliena

Lord of the Rings Online Announces 5th Expansion

The Battle for Helm's Deep is one of the most iconic fantasy battles ever put to paper and has inspired the imagination of generations of avid Middle-Earth fans.

Get ready to take to the ramparts because this fall Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Turbine plan to put you right in the action, with the announcement of the fifth expansion of the Tolkien inspired Free-to-Play MMORPG, The Lord of Rings Online: Helm's Deep.

So what can eager fans expect as they venture into the western plains of Rohan?

Against The Shadow

Don't look now, but Update 10 has hit Middle-earth!

Lord of the Rings Online: Against The Shadow Part Two brings with it a whole host of changes, including the usual smattering of class updates, items and combat changes of course. But the real meat of the update features the second part of the Riders of Rohan instance cluster, Road to Erebor, with four exciting new raids:

  • The Bells of Dale
  • Road to the Lonely Mountain
  • The Fires of Smaug
  • The Battle for Erebor

And what would a preview be without accompanying screenshots? Just a wall of text, that's what! Check out the impressive screens below.