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GR: Can you tell us about some of the upgrades to the music system?
JA:...One of the little things we wanted to do [was] the ability to hold notes... Now if you hold down the key you can actually sustain the note... [We] added in some new instruments, percussion instruments, trying to round out the jazz ensemble you’re working on I’m sure. But probably the biggest change is the addition to the music notation system. We’re adopting a common – they call it ABC - music notation system. And this is something that people in the real world actually do because it’s hard to write music shorthand. So we created this ABC language notation system to really allow players to write tunes in ASCII format. It was kind of originally developed, oh gosh, maybe dozen years ago or so... Well this is great, because now we have a language that the game can read and that you can pass around to each other.
Above: Ents will also make their debut in the Evendim expansion
GR: So if you take a song that you like and convert it to an ABC notation, you can share it with a friend in-game?
JA: Yeah sure, because these are ASCII files. And what’s great about it is it kind of takes all this musical language that can be easily read by people too. So you can actually play the song by just looking at the notes. Basically you just say, “Oh it’s a lower case “a” or an uppercase “A” and so you get a sense of where it is. But the goal of it is to make these songs immediately portable, storable, [and] transportable.
GR: When stomping through the Shire, we noticed that everyone seems to be playing the Imperial March song from the Star Wars movies on their lutes. Have you noticed players interacting with the world your team created in any other unexpected ways?
JA: Oh there are always people doing things unexpected. That’s for sure. You know, people can’t get down to [being] naked. But we’ve had people swimming together, doing little water ballet activities... I don’t know if you’ve gone on YouTube and seen some of the music videos that have been created. People are playing all kinds of different songs [like] Meatloaf and Bat out of Hell... We’ve had players do spontaneous events in the game. They get together and have pie-eating contests and all kinds of things you just never think about when you’re building up the base game.