Monday, April 14, 2014

Update 13 & MME Plans

Today's a big day for LOTRO. The patching for Update 13 is well under way and I wanted to take a few moments to discuss my plans for Material Middle-earth for the next several months. As some of you may know, Aaron "Rowan" Campbell, the new Executive Producer for LOTRO, released his latest letter addressing the community and upcoming changes to LOTRO. I'll mention a couple of points from it, as they are relevant to this blog and all things cosmetic. If you're looking for other information, you'll find it in the letter.

Rowan's April 2014 Letter:
New Class, Housing, and Upcoming Locations:

First of all, it excites me to hear about Beornings being our new class. All I can think about are the new skill animations for blog that bad thing? I've been blogging for LOTRO for so long now, that I tend to see many things from a cosmetic viewpoint. (Minimal details have been released regarding the class, but as it stands, the Lore-master has some competition.) I sit here wondering how the bear forms will appear, even though the transformation has been explicitly mentioned as a possibility. Will we be able to choose the color of our fur or will our hair color at creation dictate it? Although this might sound like too much, will the bear forms look substantially different from Lore-master pets? I'm trying to not get my hopes up and make a proverbial mountain out of this mole hill sized but of information, but I can't help it!

Secondly, hearing that there will be no major housing updates makes me sad. This isn't to say there won't be any changes to the system, but who knows what they will be. As some of you have noticed, the full title for this blog is "Material Middle-earth: A LOTRO Outfitter's & Housing Blog" and I had hoped to feature player houses again, something I haven't done in well over a year. Originally hearing about the major updates former EP Kate Paiz mentioned in her letter I decided to put houses aside and wait. Nearly a year went by and only the storage and upkeep systems changed. I had been hoping for a free-hook system, allowing players to place their decorations wherever they'd like. I was even hoping for updates that would revitalize the housing community, making neighborhoods places where you'd frequently encounter other players. I've even been eagerly awaiting the day where the Hytbold furniture is properly categorized by hook type. I might not display homes any longer, as too many are left abandoned or have foreclosed as it stands...and that would lead to a slight alteration in the blog's name.

Lastly, I'm glad to hear mentioning of the Blackroot Vale, Osgiliath, Dol Amroth, the Dead Marshes, Minas Tirith as future locales. As someone who chooses specific places to take screenshots of outfits, these places will create many more opportunities not only for myself, but for the lore fanatics. Maybe this means we'll get some Gondorian fashion to compliment the zones! I'll admit, I'm having second thoughts about the Dead Marshes, if it's only to check on the status of Sam and Frodo. It sounds to me that'll be more of an instanced space for the Epic questline. Honestly, I wonder if that means we'll get a glimpse at Emyn Muil, the craggy, rocky labyrinth on the far side of Nen Hithoel. I hope so! I'd also jump at the chance to see the Swan Knights!

Upcoming Plans for MME:
Blog Format, New Outift Series, Potential Contests, Retirement:

Lately, I've been thinking this blog could use a graphical facelift and possibly some reorganizing. I'm not entirely sure how flexible Blogspot is in terms of customization or if I'll need to go learn a specific web-based language. My roots are so deep at Blogspot, that moving would be detrimental. I remember the the very first layout of this blog, filled with blues, purples, blacks, and golds...all done with MS Paint. Some three months down the road, with the announcement of Rohan, I changed the theme slightly, using PSP 7, to fit the upcoming expansion area and that's what I still have running here. Now that we're on the path to Gondor, I find myself wondering if I should make my blog more Gondor-friendly or something a bit more universal and pleasant. Something is certainly in the works. I'm also going to be looking at a more efficient tag categorizing system to make the sidebar more user friendly, and updating the screenshot guide.

Speaking of something new in the works, I've been tinkering with a once-used posting style. I don't know how many of you were around when I posted outfits for the Harvestmath season in 2012, but I'm planning on reviving entries featuring three outfits. Please note that these special posts will be themed on a specific type of gear (i.e. robes, dresses, or tunics) and will contain simplistic outfits using two to three pieces each. These are for those ensembles that don't deserve six screenshots each or a full-length entry. You'll know it when you see it. Those posts will be titled "Simple Fashion -- [insert style here] Ideas" and will appear every one to two months. I'm hoping this will revive some interest and transform seasonal/festival rewards into year-round attire.

The very first post for MME was a cosmetic contest for Forgotten Darkness. Unfortunately, it was one of a kind. I've gotten lazy in that regard and there have been no other contest outfits featured here. Time willing, I might display some server-based contest winners here. I've been invited to judge several player-sponsored events on Gladden and a couple on other servers. I've even been known to hand out a few prizes myself. This is a BIG maybe, as I've already got a lot on my plate. Outfit submissions are still out of the question...I know for a fact I can't accommodate those players, as much as I'd like to. I've seen many beautiful cosmetic displays over the years!

Depending on what comes along with Update 14 (if the quarterly update schedule holds true that would be late July), I might not retire from my cosmetic career entirely. With all these ideas and tidbits Turbine has been dropping, I've found my levels of interest in LOTRO slightly increasing. I still have enough materials to get me through July and August. Despite the game-altering changes that arrived with Helm's Deep, there are definitely some new and exciting possibilities approaching. Time will tell!

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