Good day, LotR Mod community,
After having some fun breaking the mod, I have decided to write a post in where I see the mod going in the future.
Before going any further, the thoughts in this post are mine and mine alone, and none of what I write here is a suggestion for any specific feature to be added. Please see the Suggestions forum if you want to learn more about concrete features that should be added. These are just the areas where I would focus my energy if I were the developer of this mod.
Let's start this off by looking at how development started. The first structure on the Facebook page, was a Hobbit-hole. For the first several months of development, the mod didn't really have factions as such, rather a simplified system of good and evil.
Over the course of monthly updates, more and more features were added, specifically many regions of the West of Middle-Earth, along with a few structures unique to each region. Hiring also came rather early on. By the time the Middle-Earth map was released in Public Beta 13, most of the West of Middle-Earth, although incomplete, was definitely very much playable. Fast travel followed soon after, along with factions and more structures. Further features that were added included a new combat system, bandits, invasions, roads, Utumno, alignment spheres, and modifiers, along with a great number of new factions and some polishing and expansion of existing factions.
Factions -- thoughts on those?Since the release of factions, in Public Beta 15, just about all of the mod's updates since have added at least one new faction or sub-faction to the mod.
While having a great number of factions is definitely an asset to the mod, I do not think that new factions should continue to be the primary focus of the mod's main development going forward. The main problem with factions is... well, they're all kind of similar. Some of them have a unique weapon or two, but when it comes down to it, what's the difference between Gondor and Rohan for example? Very little unless you're into mounted archers or Rangers of Ithilien. Blue Mountains and Durin's Folk are virtually identical, and as for the various Orc factions? They're pretty much the same, unless you're a fan of one faction over another. Furthermore, focusing on new factions is really a mistake, IMO, as adding a new faction really only benefits players who are fans of that faction.
While I don't advocate dropping development or addition of factions entirely, I think that the mod's factions should each have one unique ability -- if you play Civilisation, you'll know what I mean. Horse-archers are a Rohan exclusive, and maybe the Ithilien Rangers could count as an exclusive unit to Gondor. That would give them an edge over other factions, but also an exploitable weakness.
What area of the mod is in most need of development?
Definitely not factions, as they're pretty complete for the most part. Here's a list of areas on which I believe development should be prioritised:
- Mining. The game's name is Minecraft, after all, yet the mod lacks the same detail underground as it has aboveground. Many players don't mine for fun, but that's maybe because mining isn't that much different from the days of Alpha in vanilla. Adding a few more details to mining would make mining far more fun and enjoyable.
- Oceans. Let's admit, the oceans in the mod are... pretty boring. MC vanilla had an aquatic update very recently, and I believe the mod's due for something similar. Wave particle effects breaking on the shore are a good start, however.
- Nautical transport. This doesn't mean large-scale ships necessarily, but sailing the seven seas in a barrel or a vanilla rowboat doesn't seem right, besides, it's rather slow. A small sailboat, maybe with some storage space, not specific to any faction, is something that would make travel by sea a whole lot more enticing.
- Weather. Isn't it kind of wierd that it rains in all of Middle-Earth at the same time? I like the new wind sound effects, but having weather localised to certain regions would be much more sensible. Maybe some regions could have a higher probability of rain than others?
- More difficult survival. Suggested by Recneps in the comments, I agree with his statement that survival should be much more challenging. Slower crop growth rates, but with more crops per harvest, may help with this, although this is definitely one of those things that belongs in a config file.
- A better economy. Also suggested by Recneps, there should be more uses for money. Right now, silver coins are limited to unit hiring and reforging, and aren't really used that often in singleplayer for trading. I'm not sure how he means to go about changing that...
- Consequences for looting houses. Perhaps looting occupied houses should cost alignment with a faction if you get caught??
- New and imaginative gameplay mechanics. In each and every new update, this is what I look forward to most. Invasions and bandits were an excellent idea, IMO. So was unit hiring. I don't have any specific ideas for this, but I look forward to seeing what's to come in this department.
Is there hope with new mechanics?
There certainly is! Mevans stated on Discord that he's working on a scaled alignment system; that is, instead of rigid spheres, the alignment you get per kill scales smoothly. For example, an Orc kill can give between 0 and 1 alignment, in increments of 0.1, depending on where it's killed. Additionally, NPC spawned during invasions might give 1.5x more alignment than usual.
Thanks for reading. Do your thoughts agree with mine? What area of the mod do you think is in need of a refresh? Leave your answer in the comments below.