Exclusive Middle-earth Online interview

Middle-earth Online, the upcoming massively multiplayer online game based on Tolkien's fantastic world, is a big, black box of mysteries that one just must peek into. We got to talk with the developers behind the game, so we could find our what makes Middle-earth Online stand out from the crowd of other online games on the market.

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Side 4 I think that a lot of people want to know if there is going to be any large scale wars between the forces of good and evil. Can we expect anything like this, maybe along the lines of what's being done in Star Wars Galaxies?

CRT: We have plans for large Kinships (our guilds) to be able to enjoy large scale combat in special areas. Let's talk community, which is very important to online games. How will players be able to make a mark on the world, become someone, rise in status and form alliances? Any exciting social activities we should know about?

JA: We are not free to comment on this right now. Will there be housing? And of course, will players be able to live off farming instead of just the old monster slaughtering? And will players be able to create cities or townships?

CRT: Players will be able to purchase houses. There will also be larger houses for Kinships. Players will be able to craft items and houses can assist with that. All housing is pre-placed within the world, in or near the cities and towns described by Tolkien. When it comes to transportation, what kind of choices do we have here? Will players be able to buy, tame and/or ride mounts? And will there be ships or magical teleportation portals?

CRT: Horses and other mounts will have to wait for another day, around the time we get to Rohan. There are ways of moving faster through the world, using preset travel locations (like a ferry or a stable), if you have earned the right to do so. We all expect the landscape to be absolutely awe-inspiring when the game is released. How well do you think the landscape in-game answers to that portrayed in the books? And in the books, nature is not a static thing. It's got a will of it's own, like the old tree in the old forest. Can you elaborate on this?

CRT: We have areas like the Old Forest which are alive, in more ways than one. Our critters list includes many of the Tolkien creatures that he described in vivid detail. We also have featured characters, like Old Man Willow. Let's talk about tradeskills, which is another important feature in a social online game. Please give us some hints on how the crafting system will work, what players will be able to create, and how much the in-game economy relies on trading between players.

JA: Unfortunately we are not discussing crafting yet. How will characters in Middle-earth Online advance? Is there levels and experience points to gain, or maybe characters are more reliant on skill advancement to grow in power, knowledge and stature?

JA: Our character advancement is tied directly into what choices the player makes while playing and is a combination of skill use and levels. I cannot go into any real detail at this time without being severly flogged. Are there any political models in place, such as kings and nobility? Will players be able to step into political roles to enrich the social matrix of the game?

JA: There currently are no plans for any systems that support political models with kings and nobility. Of course this does not keep people from role-playing these positions within their Kinships. The master of a Kinship is called the Leader, and he can set a Heir to succeed him when the time comes.

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