In recent LotRO news, Turbine recently announced the beta launch of LotRO’s Lorebook, a soon-to-be-player-editable database compendium of all things LotRO. Read the announcement here. Patience writes:
While this Preview release is not editable, the upcoming public beta release features seamless integration with player accounts. This allows active LOTRO subscribers to participate in future community development of the Lorebook. Players will be able to annotate the existing entries, as well as create entirely new articles sharing tips, tricks, background information, and more.
This looks to potentially be a truly helpful site. I’d like to see some more flexible/better organization, but its a beta and they seem to be headed in the right direction. It remains to be seen whether, when open for player contributions, it becomes the waste of space that most Thottbot entries became. However, as a Turbine-run site, at least they can apply forum posting rules and perhaps moderate the amount of chaff that may gum up the gears.
All in all, an interesting move on Turbine’s part. First, with the game being relatively new, the “traditional” sources of “cheater” information have been slowly filling up, so having a definitive source available for all kinds of information, not just “cheater” information, is helpful. I may not want to know where a certain mob spawns or how to beat him, but I would often like to know what upcoming skills and traits do, when I get them, where certain trainers are located, what Tier 2 crafting recipes are there, etc.
The lesson that sites like Thotbott and Allakhazam and others teach the MMOs is that lots of people would like access to game information organized in a logical fashion. There used to be a strange device called the “manual” which has mostly gone the way of the Dodo. With MMOs, manuals are out of date before they’re sent to the printer, so why bother. These info sites have filled that gap since EQ days. Its just a reality that with expansive MMO worlds, even hardcore players can still find value in the general information there. Players have come to expect this and game publishers have recognized the necessity of supporting the fan-site community for the success of the game. Turbine seems no different with LotRO.
Fan sites and online game databases are also big money. The traffic these independent sites have generated has not gone unnoticed by the gold selling industry. The notorious gold sellers have gotten in and out of the fan site/database business, acquiring and trading sites like Thottbot and Allahkazam and cramming them full of gold selling and other adverts. Turbine’s move here may actually be an attempt to keep control of much of that content which these sites find so valuable (at least for the gold sellers).
Independent database sites have to acquire all the information about item stats, quests, etc. and is often incomplete or of dubious quality. Turbine has the initiative here in that it could conceivably make all of that information instantly available, driving initial player traffic to Lorebook rather than elsewhere. Even if Lorebook isn’t the exclusive source of information, its definitive nature and inherent comprehensiveness will probably make it more than good enough and at least authoritative. Could be a very smart move to gain an early lead in capturing this traffic. Habits are hard to break and players hate wasting time, so if Lorebook delivers, why go anywhere else (even if you are neutral on the gold seller issue)?
I suspect this will be a trend we see in all new releases.