GR: We noticed that [player housing] was absent from the update list [for The Shore of Evendim ], but saw that it was something that you were planning for the future.
JA: Yeah, big update this October, a huge upgrade for everybody to get player housing. It’s gonna be really spectacular for folks to own a piece of Middle Earth. So we’re psyched about that, and we’re looking forward to rolling it out. If you think about what we’re going to do between the Evendim launch, the Summer Solstice... a huge Monster Play upgrade that’s coming up about August. There’s just a ton of content that’s already coming down the pipe, and people are barely touching the surface of what we see as plans for the next twelve months. I think people don’t really realize what these games are supposed to be like.
You know, most game companies (I won’t mention any names), they put out a game, they wait for a year, they’ll do a small upgrade, they’ll charge 20 bucks for it and they’ll call it a day. They’re just sitting back collecting the dollars of the customer. We really want to try to continually make this the episodic content that it should be, that it can be. This is kind of an ongoing dialogue between the game designers and the consumers about making the product the best that it can be and giving them the best most enjoyable play experience.
GR: Personally, we’ve been seeing several WoW players burnt out on long raids and grinding for reputation. As you guys create this new episodic content, what do are you doing to keep new content fresh and intriguing?
JA: Well let me tell you one of my personal pet peeves... One of my personal pet peeves is being asked what Lord of the Rings’ end game is. Do you know why? Because I think that misunderstands the entirety of online gaming... The assumption is that as game designers and developers, we just put the product out there and we just stop working on it. These are online games. They’re supposed to be refreshed and updated regularly with new content. I mean with [Asheron’s Call] for example, I think we’ve done over 80 updates for the game since it launched. Although we’ve got all the standard kind of what people would normally describe as end-game like “Here’s a raid, go raid against this for a thousand times and feel good about it,” or we’ve got the Monster Play and PvP scenarios… All those components are already in the game, but you don’t have to stop there. It’s not like the game really is “end.” I mean the concept of an “end game” should be completely foreign to the business that we’re making. Just because Blizzard doesn’t choose to do updates doesn’t mean that as an industry we’re not supposed to be trying to develop new content for people to play.
GR: You were talking about a big Monster Play update in August. Will there be any upgrades to the Monster Play system in the Shores of Evendim update?
JA: You know there are some small things without a doubt. Every time we do an update we touch a thousand different things. Other things that we’re looking at right now are updates to classes. The champion for example in book nine is getting a bit of an update. And then we’re going to do the hunter and the captain later this summer. And then in the fall, we’ll be hitting some of the other ones. Pretty much every month or so, we’re going to go back and do some new skills, new upgrades for each individual class. So there [are] a thousand different things we’re putting into the update besides what we describe in the big giant content update. So we’re always going to be tweaking things like Monster Play.
There’s nothing groundbreaking that we’re trying to do on this [update] for [Monster Play]. That one’s going to be for the next big update that we’re going to be doing at the end of the summer. And I’m not really supposed to be talking about it, but I’ll just tease it and say that there will be an opportunity for you to play some brand new monster that you haven’t seen before. And different scenarios that really fills out the [Monster Play] system quite a bit.