BOSTON Turbine wants non-gamers, like you dear TheOneRing.net reader, to try its game real, real bad. And why not? The beta testing of the Lord of the Rings Online game has been a strong success; the media attention has been coming fast and furious from places like the New York Times and the BBC news. And if visiting Middle-earth isnt the first choice of fantasy realms you always wished you could visit, it is at least in the conversation.
So as the North American release on April 24 nears, Turbine is dangling carrots to get both Tolkien aficionados and gaming vets to try out its game, which the company feels confident will be a good enough experience to keep those who try it rooted to its servers while touring a virtual character around a virtual Middle-earth.
For the uninitiated, this Lord of the Rings game is the latest in a genre called an M.M.O., or massive multiplayer online game. A player logs in to explore and achieve in a wide-open world filled with characters that are other players communicating and participating in real time in a simulated Middle-earth. A player will also encounter characters, situations and locations that are written into the scenario with scripted behaviors and dialog that suggest quests characters can choose to complete or ignore.
The idea is to allow players to live in Middle-earth during the events of J.R.R. Tolkiens Fellowship Of The Ring. While players cannot be Frodo or Strider or Gandalf they just might encounter the heroes and even other minor characters like Barliman Butterbur. The positive game experience is hoped to be accomplished in at least two important ways: by creating a Middle-earth environment that Tolkiens readers will feel comfortable in and want to return to and by experiencing dynamic game play that is just plain fun – Tolkien-themed or not.
Turbine invited TheOneRing.net to its Boston offices to talk with President and CEO Jeff Anderson and key people involved in the games development including writers and designers. As a result, TORn will be rolling out impressions and information on the game for the next couple of weeks that will include some news about a possible TORn community in the game.
With an open beta period that begins on March 30 and lasts until the launch, Turbine is setting out bait to lure customers.
Pre-ordering the game allows a player to a reduced monthly subscription ($10 vs. $15), early access to the game, characters that will roll over into regulation play and in-game bonus items. Another option allows players to own a lifetime subscription for $199 which covers periodic updates, patches and expansions, leaving a possibly expanding Middle-earth map an intriguing probability. Pre-orders can be placed online (www.lotro.com/preorder) or at computer retail stores. Watch TheOneRing.net for further news, screenshots, art and opinions.