### [b]Hail and Well Met![/b]
Today we want to continue our discussion on the road from release to here, but before we do we wanted to announce that later today (sometime around 3:30pm Central US time, or 20:30 UTC), we will be releasing an important update.
This update fixes issues we've noticed since the release of Gundabad Awoken and carries over some of the minor fixes and optimizations we've made to the game in general as we build up to our console release later this month. To read more about these changes, please look at the Release Notes here.
[h1]“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door [...] You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
-The Fellowship of the Ring[/h1]
Anyone who has ever worked on a video game knows that launch is a time of great nervousness on the part of creators. On one hand, you are incredibly excited about finally putting what is your creative baby in the hands of the public so they can see it first hand. On the other hand, you worry about every little thing—like the servers or game not working, or all manner of nightmare scenarios that run through your mind.
(The Looming Threat Awaits...)
So it was with great anxiety and excitement that we launched The Lord of the Rings™: Adventure Card Game a year ago. Both excited to see how fans would react and fearful that the entire endeavor would go 'poof' in our faces.
[h1]“It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish.”
-The Fellowship of the Ring[/h1]
We launched into Early Access because we wanted to evolve the game with the feedback of fans. This is one of the great aspects of Early Access and we intended to embrace the spirit of it from the start by adding new features and content while utilizing the feedback of users to improve the game.
We received quite a bit of feedback from users right away and we began to apply it. There were a number of elements that made it into the game either right away or over the course of the following weeks and months, with just a few examples including:
- Changing the Business Model
- Dropping the Palantír as it was
- Adding Save Games
- Creating The New Tutorial Campaign
- Individual Co-Op Features
(The reworked challenge screen, one element that arose due to your input)
Let's discuss each of them in turn:
[h1]“The world is full enough of hurts and mischances without wars to multiply them.”
-The Return of the King[/h1]
Changing The Business Model
We're all gamers here at Fantasy Flight Interactive, and the greater discussion of the games industry and business models did not escape us. We began our game with a traditional free to play model but we struggled with what that meant and how it didn't really feel right for us. We changed the model over time to become more of a hybrid approach with less content being unlocked via what we then called 'Valor Points.' As the game play changed further, this model made less and less sense to us and didn't feel right as part of our first release as a studio.
(An early hero pack purchase screen)
We announced our Founder's Packs with included amounts of Valor Points that we intended players to use to purchase available content on the first day. We didn't anticipate that many players would hold on to those points rather than using them to unlock the content as we intended. We received complaints from players with enough points to purchase all of the available content at that time, that we expected them to pay real world cash for that content—this was not at all our intention.
Based on this feedback we decided that the game was far better off using a model more similar to the original table top game, with a core game and additional content releases (which is more like the traditional video game model, expressed as a core game and DLC packages).
(A later version of the Pack Unlock Menu)
We made immediate changes, giving away the full campaign as well as the initial hero packs and switching to a core set basis. We let the Founders' Packs sunset and switched to the core game as it exists now. We also decided to release additional free and unlockable content to offset this change, including:
- Two Vault releases of 17 cards each
- Three Encounters
- Alternative Hero Art
[h1]"The air seemed still and tense about him. At first the globe was dark, black as jet, with the moonlight gleaming on its surface. Then there came a faint glow and stir in the heart of it, and it held his eyes, so that now he could not look away. Soon all the inside seemed on fire; the ball was spinning, or the lights within were revolving. Suddenly the lights went out. He gave a gasp and struggled; but he remained bent, clasping the ball with both hands."
-The Two Towers[/h1]
Dropping The Palantír
The Palantír was meant to be a reward system for play. It didn't work. Despite the system only offering rewards that could be earned elsewhere, some players termed it a 'Loot Box.' No amount of communication changed this perception. What's more, the rewards it offered didn't provide the reward incentive we intended.
(Remember this? We repurposed this sequence for the current rewards screen.)
We dropped the Palantír as it was, but laid the seeds of the reward system that was going to come in our major update in May. This included quest incentive rewards, hero rewards and in quest challenges.
[h1]“Well, I’m back.”
-The Return of the King[/h1]
Adding Save Games
Another item we didn't anticipate was that individual game sessions would last as long as some players were taking. Last week we mentioned that the game began in a much more systemic fashion, with short, but very random play sessions.
(Save games in MP)
With the drive toward a more narrative system with Fate and Threat events as part of the core experience, game sessions were taking longer. Most players were finishing quests within twenty minutes, but some took as long as an hour or more. This was exacerbated with co-operative multiplayer, where players typically obsessed over the best strategy to complete sessions, and with enemies having double the health.
For this reason we added save games for both single and co-operative multiplayer, which has been a great addition to the game, allowing players to rest up after each location and come back again.
[h1]“You are a ring-bearer, Frodo. To bear a ring of power is to be alone. The task was appointed to you. And if you do not find a way, no one will.”
-The Fellowship of the Ring[/h1]
Creating The New Tutorial
While we announced right away from the start that the old tutorial was a placeholder, but we had originally intended only to release a new tutorial that was better than the first.
After listening to users, we determined that the complexity of the game required more specific tutorials that aided a wider array of players. This lead us to break down the tutorial into discretely separate tutorials covering different aspects of the game and each building upon the other so that new skills were added and reinforced upon each other.
The Tutorial Quest Detail Screen
This also gave us the chance to move forward the Deck Builder Tutorial as well as to create a 'tutorial quest' where players could put all their skills together in a starter quest.
Without your specific input on how to best craft the Tutorial, we would have not been able to deliver such a comprehensive new set of Tutorial Quests.
[h1][i]“I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it's very difficult to find anyone."
"I should think so — in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!” [/i]
Adding Co-Operative play was a blast for us as a team. While testing, we found that we were playing far more than necessary just to test because we were having so much fun just playing. That's always a good sign.
(A Cooperative Game Screen)
Despite how happy we were with how co-operative play turned out, you had some great suggestions that we brought to bear as soon as we could.
First, there were the aforementioned save games, but we also added new ways to handle individual cards (such as reward cards to only one player, while allowing other cards to be awarded to both). We also initially designed the game with separate Fate meters, but quickly switched to a shared Fate meter based on your feedback.
We added Ping (have you tried it? Just hit Control/Left Mouse Button (Cmd/Left Mouse Button on a Mac) in a multiplayer session so that players can indicate areas of the screen to one another in a session.
Co-Operative play started out good, but became even greater with the input of you, our players.
That's it for this week. Next week we'll discuss more aspects of the game since launch and a few other surprises we will announce...
Reminder: Obtaining Technical Assistance
If you happen to experience any issues or need technical assistance for the game, please remember that if you don't see the answer within the forums or on discord, you can always file a Helpshift here:
There's a fan set up and run discord channel where you can reach out and talk to fellow players and look for multiplayer friends to play with.
You can check it out here.
Don't forget that you can check out our Twitch channel at https://www.twitch.tv/ffigames every two weeks at 1pm Central US time / 6:00pm UTC.
Our next stream will be tomorrow, Wednesday, August 14th.
That's all we have this week. We will be back next week with more. Until we meet again, may the stars shine ever on your adventures!