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Boring Press Release Actually Filled with Treasure
The announcement that “Turbine Announces Distribution Partnership with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for the Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria” might not sound thrilling but it does contain some information that is actually pretty interesting to people looking for more Mines of Moria information
WBIE will handle distribution of the boxed versions: LOTRO:MoM Complete Edition and LOTRO:MoM Collector’s Edition. The Complete and Collector’s Editions both include full versions of the game, allowing their buyers to play all existing content from Shadows of Angmar and free expansions. Existing players will have the option of buying a digital only download version directly from Turbine.
As the video game branch of Warner Brothers, WBIE often deals with games based on movie or comic book games licenses. By relying on their parent’s experience and success in the home video distribution business, as well as its deep pockets, they have also taken on some large mainstream game distribution projects. FPS fans will recall the naming contest for the sequel to F.E.A.R. (Project Origin was the winning entry) that took place since the F.E.A.R. name is owned by Vivendi, but WBIE bought the game’s developers (Monolith), and obviously want to use the WB home video network for distribution.
On the MMO front, WBIE is working with Sony Online Entertainment and DC Comics to bring DC Universe Online to market. For the time being at least, Turbine seems to have picked a pretty good dance partner. With WBIE expanding operations in the EU, they might be pitching Turbine on the European distribution right this minute.
The expansion’s Collector’s Edition has stepped up the neat-o factor from the SoA Collector’s Edition, which is good as the latter was pretty weak. Buyers will now choose several of 8 available in game items, the art and music discs are still there and the colour game manual becomes a colour starting guide. More noticeably the double deep box packaging is replaced by an impressive sounding leather-bound book type package and the map goes from 7” x 12” on folded up paper to 22” x 22” on cloth. The CE will include a poster, and a ring with a chain and pouch. They're pushing the collectible envelope. Thousands of rings to sell them all… and in the boxes find them.
The obvious problem with the planned offering is that many current players will want the Collector’s Edition, far more than players new to the game will, and installation discs are a nice thing to have if you are installing often because of problems, upgrades, or wanting the game on several systems. Making your most loyal fans pay for a full version of the game if they want discs or for the Collector’s Edition bonuses tends to irk them. MMO players are pretty big on seniority, and lumping vets in with newbies usually rubs the former the wrong way. A rebate program for current subscribers buying retail boxes would be very welcome. How big a problem this is remains to be seen, as the three versions’ prices haven't been revealed.
The press release also announces “groundbreaking dual height map technology.” As mentioned in this article about Mines of Moria, LOTRO’s current map system is a mess for multi-level dungeoneering, so hopefully this addresses that problem directly.
Improvements to the indoor mapping system and Collector’s Edition goodies are at least very welcome if not absolutely necessary. After all, the greatest dungeon in fantasy literature should have a stylish map to go with it.
Time to put on your orc-stomping boots, or remove all footwear if you’re bringing a Hobbit, because the grand-daddy of all dungeons is opening its doors.