As part of an in-depth interview with Gamasutra published today, Turbine's Jeffrey Steefel has been discussing the state of Lord Of The Rings Online
, claiming that it's now the number two Western subscription MMO behind World Of Warcraft
by subscriber numbers, and commenting that the company "has the ability" to do console versions of the game.
As Steefel says: "We launched back in April of 2007, and we've grown the game [in size of world]. Once we have the stuff that we just showed you, the game will have grown in size over 20 percent. We're already the number two Western-developed MMO that's subscription-based -- basically number two to WoW
Later in the discussion, he explains the strategy behind LOTRO
's flexible licenses:
"Our licenses -- and not accidentally so -- for The Hobbit and the trilogy are massively multiplayer online for all platforms and all regions. We have the ability to do that. We got the ability because we think it's valuable. We want to be able to reach the widest possible audience. As for whether we have a specific focus on that now, not necessarily.
Steefel also discusses the daunting task of building a world based on a fantasy environment that's truly massive -- the epic fantasy world of J.R.R. Tolkien. Was the team constrained in any way as they endeavored to translate the fantasy to an MMO environment?
"There are definitely constraints in big things, like magic. Making a role-playing game in a world where there are five wizards and you know who they are and no one else does "magic" -- that's a place where we had to bend, and bend a lot. We just showed you a skill where he's pulling lightning down from the sky to toast a guy. It's really about how you package it.
The reason why I think Tolkien is -- as if he needs me to explain why he's been so successful -- but the reason why the books to me are so successful is because he built a world that feels like it could exist. It has so much internal consistency with the ruleset and how things work, and things don't contradict that anywhere in the book. Things always work the way that they're supposed to work. It feels like you could step out of our world and into that world very naturally, and it would exist. It's not so fantastical that it feels made-up and things don't make any sense.
For more from the in-depth discussion, you can now read the full Gamasutra interview
quizzing the Turbine staffers on the state of the PC MMO (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).