Gamer.no: We have been told that only a part of the world will be available at launch. Can you tell us what part of the world this is, and can you give us a technical view point on how big the actual in-game world will be?
JA: We will be covering most of Eriador plus a bit more -- from the coast of Lindon in the West to the Misty Mountains in the East, all the way up to Forochel in the North and down to the Brandywine in the South. This includes major locations like Bree, the Shire, Moria, and Rivendell. This a pretty large area and it takes sometime to travel on foot from the Shire to Bree.
Gamer.no: Will you be able to choose between the forces of good and evil? And is there some sort of alignment system in the game, which will enable you to join either the forces of Sauron or the Last Alliance?
CRT: The actions of the players will determine their alignment: either towards Virtue or Corruption. Alignment will have a major effect within the game. How players decide to solve quests, for example, will determine what class choices they get at the higher levels, what areas of the world they can safely enter and so on. Players can certainly align themselves with various factions throughout the world of Middle-earth, but the player cannot work directly with the dark forces of Sauron yet.
Gamer.no: Tell us a bit on what races you can choose from and what classes players will be able to step into.
CRT: There are four races: Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits and the Race of Man. Players can select male and female avatars for all races except Dwarves (their women did not adventure much). The race determines the set of Base Class players can choose from, so Hobbits have Hobbit-like roles to player and Elves have different class choices from the other races and so on. As players adventure, their Alignment will determine if they are promoted to the Virtuous and Corrupt version of their Base Class. There are a variety of classes, ranging from melee grunts, ranged weapon users, lore classes and sneaky gits. Elves have a Scout, which are a wilderness-based melee class that can eventually specialize as an Archer or an Avenger. Men can become a Soldier, who can use a wide range of weapons and armors that can promote to a Champion or a Mercenary.
Gamer.no: We are all very eager to know how combat will work. It's a known fact that the old EverQuest-style of fighting, where you click a button and wait for it to be all over, is growing old and tiering. How will Middle-earth Online portray the heat of battle, and how involved will the players be themselves?
CRT: We are still in the middle of our combat system development. We will have to release more information at a later date, after we've had a chance to develop it more. We are looking for ways to be more involved in combat, and do have more things to do in a party environment. We want combat to reflect the brutal harshness of Tolkien's world and still be very playable.
Gamer.no: Player verus Player combat. Now, don't be scared, you can tell us everything you want to. This is probably one of the most difficult facets of creating an online game. How will Middle-earth Online handle PvP-combat, and will it be optional?
CRT: We do have a PvP system, but it's not the traditional model and we don't want to talk about it yet.