Category Archives: Lord of the Rings Online

Down and Out in the Twenty-First Hall

I’ve mocked Lord of the Rings Online on occasion for taking so long to get to Mordor.  We’re past the eight year mark and we’re just getting a hint Minis Tirith might come to the game in some form.

At least we've hit Gondor

At least we’ve hit Gondor

The events of the books on which the game is based were wrapped up in three and a half years, and that time line generously includes a couple years or post-war activity.

But my own progress in the war of the ring has been desultory even in comparison with Turbine’s progress.  I made it to the far side of Moria back in August 2013, and so completed the game’s first expansion, which went live in November of 2008.

Not exactly Mister Speedy.

Which isn’t to say I haven’t played a lot of LOTRO over the last eight years.  I have characters on five servers… soon to be consolidated down to two… or maybe three… and I have had good times playing LOTRO.  I have most certainly gotten my lifetime subscription investment out of the game.  I just tend to run out of steam with my characters somewhere around level 40.  After the Lone Lands and Evendim the experience becomes a bit uneven in my opinion and I tend to stop and make an alt of something before I get to Moria.

So the fact that I have a character on the far side of Moria says something.  Moria was actually very good.  It started slow, but built up to be quite a bit of fun after I got past the opening area.

And then ended up on the other side in Lothlorien and things sort of fell flat.

To Lothlorien

Lothlorien, land of ageless elves and lifeless quests

Moria had a story and different quests and kept me engaged.  Lothlorien seemed to fall back into the defacto kill/collect ten things… generally killing orc or collecting things from orcs… in a land that, while pretty enough, had no real unique feel to me.  So my progress dropped off.

And then, of course, came the Helm’s Deep expansion and the great skill revamp that brought us what looked like WoW talent trees, circa 2005.  That both changed the quirky but unique feel of LOTRO classes and made it feel like I was going to have to re-learn how to play my captain from scratch after having made it to level 61.

The Captain's Specs

The Captain’s Specs

The zone and the class changes conspired to keep me from playing the game much over the last two years.  My main character, my captain on the Brandywine server, basically hung out in the Twenty-First Hall of Moria that whole time, it being the closest place with a bank.

I logged in at least once a month to keep my account active and collect my 500 Turbine points… points which I then used to buy what appears to be the last two full-on expansions for the game, Riders of Rohan and Helm’s DeepSo I could move forward with the game, owning all the content at this point, I just needed to find the motivation.

Then Gaff appeared to be getting the LOTRO bug.  He decided to re-subscribe and started on with his highest level character, pushing on to Mirkwood.

So I shook off some of the cobwebs, cleared some of the fluff out of my Captain’s bags, and rode back out to Lothlorien to see if I could get invested.  I also had to pick a spec and figure out some new skills.  I need to find a decent guide to playing the captain, but I muddled through, picking the DPS spec and trying to pick things that improve damage.  I also think my legendary weapon, a halberd for my captain, needs to be replaced.  Even with its DPS fully upgraded, it is barely better than a couple of one hand swords I have gotten as drops.

I killed some orcs.  And some more orcs.  And collected more stuff from them, occasionally burning some things they built, because screw orcs.  And eventually I managed to get into some of the story again, catching up with the as-yet-unbroken fellowship… I even spoke to Boromir… and was actually introduced to Celeborn and Galadriel.

We live in the woods, so our natural stance is wooden...

We live in the woods, so our natural stance is wooden…

This gave me hope that maybe, just maybe, I might be nearing the end of the bland sameness of Lothlorien and could be inching my was slowly towards Mirkwood.  I would dearly like to get there, if only to get into the second game expansion.

We will have to see if I can stay invested.

And then there are the server issues.  Gaff is playing and it sounds like he might have made it to Mirkwood already.  However he is on the Silverlode server with the Nazgun.  I only have a level 35 Rune Keeper on that server, so to play there I would have a long way to catch up.

Of course, the Silverlode server is going away.  However, while there are free transfers to other servers, Brandywine, where my captain resides, is not on the list.  The Nazgun is headed to Landroval at some point, and I can actually get a free transfer OFF of Brandywine (it is apparently the highest population US server) to Landroval, but I am not sure if I should… or if I could.  I already moved a bunch of characters there from Firefoot, so I might not have enough slots left to bring more than one or two characters.  And the Nazgun is holding out on moving for some reason, so actually playing with Gaff is problematic at the moment.  Then there is WoW, where I have 21 days left on my token.  No easy decisions.

Life in the MMORPG lane I suppose.

Waiting for LOTRO World Transfers…

Peeking in on my characters this past weekend, I saw that the promised transfer button was now visible in the launcher UI.  The server merge appeared to be at hand.

It wasn't there last I looked...

It wasn’t there last I looked…

Of course, the great server merge has been expected for some time now.  It was first brought up in the Producer’s Letter early in the year and appeared to be solidified with a dev post early in August that outlined the whole merge plan.  The whole thing seemed to be kicking off back in the first half of September when two of the to-be-closed servers, Elendilmir (US) and Este (EU), were given the green light to start moving to new destinations.

The rest of us could play around by copying ourselves to the test servers, but otherwise were told we would have to wait until our time came.

I hadn’t seen any further news, but the button was here I thought I might as well click it and see what happened!  All advances require somebody to do something that might objectively seem stupid.

The first click was a good one and brought me to a list of all the servers on which I have characters.  A nice little summary in that.  I have characters on four servers that are closing, and then some on Brandywine, which will remain, but which is still listed as not being available as a destination due to its popularity, which surprised me a bit.  As I said before, I thought all the cool kids played on Landroval.  But maybe the game is running out of cool kids… those who role play or play in bands.

My server list

My server list

By the way, here is a tip for every QA department everywhere, increase the default size of the font in Windows… I run mine at 125% so I can read things without glasses… and run your launcher and make sure you aren’t keying off of that and boosting your text outside of the readable zone.  That is bad, m’kay.

Anyway, 25 characters, 18 of which need new homes, which is too many to fit on a single server, and all of them are in Kinships, which requires a bit of extra thinking/coordination for the move.

But there is already a “how-to” for kinships posted.  Go Turbine.

I also noticed that if you mouse over each server, if will give you a listing of your characters and when you last played them.  Behold all of my LOTRO characters.

A lot of characters I haven’t logged on for a while there.  I am actually a bit surprised that the earliest date is in 2009.  I thought sure that there would be somebody I hadn’t logged in since late 2007.  I’m pretty sure Beeridan is a hobbit though.

Anyway, I decided to give the whole transfer thing a try with my characters on Nimrodel, a server I joined back in 2009 for a bit.  They are some of the least likely characters for me to revive.  They are all still sitting in the Podcasters of Bree kinship… last I checked… which included such local legends as Michael Zenke, Brent from VirginWorlds, Darren from The Common Sense Gamer, Jonathan from Through the Aftermath, and probably a couple more I am forgetting.  The likelihood of logging on and finding any of them playing LOTRO felt pretty small, so why not experiment with those characters.  So I selected Nimrodel and clicked the “next” button.

There I was given an option to select which characters to transfer along with whether or not to take the shared items along with the move.  I decided to take everything.

Select characters to transfer...

Select characters to transfer…

That selected, I clicked “next” yet again.  It was time to select a destination.

I had actually not given the destination much thought.  But with Brandywine still locked out as far as I knew, there were only four choices for US players:

  • Arkenstone
  • Crickhollow
  • Gladden
  • Landroval

What the hell, any of those would do.  This was an experiment.

However, my choices turned out to be a bit more limited.

Move destinations... none!

Move destinations… none!

Apparently we’re not there yet.  I tried with the other servers as well and there were no move destinations available to me.

After that I went and dug around the LOTRO web site a bit to see if there had been any further announcements or updates.  I didn’t see anything new, and a quick cruise through the forums seemed to indicate that some servers were able to transfer… because this seemed to be setting off a minor forum war between players who RP and those who do not and who should respect whom… but otherwise nothing official from Turbine.  Some people are getting transfers, it just hasn’t filtered down to me.

Not that is matters so much for me.  I am not playing the game right now and only peek in monthly to make sure I get my Turbine points… which I have turned around and used to buy all the expansions, so should I return to the game some day I will be set on that front.  I am just interested to see how this works out.  The logistics of consolidating your player base can be trying and it seems that Turbine is taking things slowly, which is probably the right plan.

Friday Morning in a Hot Spell

It has been close to 100 degrees here almost all week… which is actually pretty normal in Silicon Valley at this time of year.  My memories from childhood and the start of school always included some really hot days a week or two into things, just in time to find that the air conditioning in one building or another had broken down over the summer.  And so my daughter gets to experience the same.

So in the cool of the evening I am throwing together a few items too short for posts of their own.  The return of bullet point Friday!

  • Asheron’s Busy Signal

Asheron’s Call was put into unsupported limbo, being free but essentially unsupported, by Turbine some time back.  Now we are getting a taste of what that might mean in the long term.  MMO Fallout reported earlier this week that the game had been brought down for maintenance a couple weeks back and failed to come up again and has been unavailable ever since.

asherons_call_full_logoThe thread reporting the problem has been updated and indicates that moving that transferring the Asheron’s Call to Turbine’s new data center, where the LOTRO servers are going as well, would be expedited, but that the game would not be up again until that happened.  The statement was that the game should be up by Friday.

They just did not say which Friday.

However, it appears it might be today, as people at the end of the forum thread are reporting that they can log in.  There has been no official announcement or update since August 31.

Addendum: Turbine posted about the servers being up on Facebook, though no word yet in the official forums, where players are looking for compensation for the down time.  I say refund them double their money!  Wait, the game is free?

  • The Wonder about Drunder

Daybreak announced their isle of misfit players, the Drunder prison server, back in August.  However, we haven’t heard much since.  Over at Atheren’s Adventures there was a report of a thread about the new server over on the Daybreak forums.

Fortress of Drunder is included on the Drunder server

Fortress of Drunder is included on the Drunder server

The thread kicks off with a post from somebody who has been banished to the new server and has found that it isn’t actually working yet.  How do you open a ticket on a server where you have been denied all support?  Anyway, there is clearly a hole in the system if people so banned can still post on the forums.  The rest of the forum thread is mostly scorn for cheaters, questions about what gets your there (as opposed to just outright banned), and why Daybreak has bothered with this at all.  Key comment from the announcement thread:

Update from drunder: server was a complete flop, no one plays there. Banned people continue to just make new accounts.

Still some of the old SOE “Hey, let’s just try this!” moxie left in Daybreak I guess.

  • Transfers Begin in Middle-Earth

The server consolidation effort for Lord of the Rings Online, which was referenced at the beginning of the year in the Producer’s Letter and for which we finally got some concrete details early last month, looks to be kicking off next week.

There is a post up on the forums indicating that the first two servers up for free, one-way transfers will be the US server Elendilmir and the EU server Estel.

Players on EU servers will be able to transfer to one of the following servers:

  • Belegaer
  • Evernight
  • Gwaihir
  • Laurelin
  • Sirannon

Players on US servers will be able to transfer to one of the following servers:

  • Arkenstone
  • Crickhollow
  • Gladden
  • Landroval

The US server Brandywine remains off the list of possible destinations for the time being.

  • Saying No to Windows 10

Long gone are the days when I would install a new operating system on day one or, heaven forbid, during beta.  I think the last beta OS I installed on a machine I owned was Mac OS 7.1, part of the System 7 chain of releases, and I regretted it.  I don’t even want to  get into the pros and cons of Windows 10.  I am happy and everything is working on Windows 7, so there is no reason to change.  I’ll move when I need to.

However, Microsoft seems quite intent on telling me about Windows 10 every day when I start up my system.  I am not interested in a “free” copy of Windows 10.

This, every single day

This, every single day

Finally sick of that, I decided to try to at least do away with that notification.  As it turns out, Microsoft slipped that in as part of the Windows Update cycle as KB3035583.  Uninstalling that update removed the daily reminder about Windows 10.

Unfortunately, Microsoft is so eager to hand out copies of Windows 10 that they might be pushing it to people who haven’t even opted in.  Just what I need clogging up space on my SSD.  Something else to fix.

Once Upon a Lifetime Subscription…

A Blaugust leftover post; started during but finished afterwards.

Lifetime subscriptions were on the agenda for a moment, with Syl listing not getting one for Lord of the Rings Online as a regret while Tobold took the opposite view.

I am the third result, having purchased that option and feeling no regret,

In fact I remain very happy with my LOTRO lifetime subscription, but I played enough when it was subscription to break even, and then enjoyed VIP level status, with a 500 Turbine Point per month stipend, after it went F2P.  That has allowed me to play, buy things from the store, including the last two expansions, and never spend another dime on the game.  But I also played a lot of LOTRO over the years.  It is easily on the top 5 of my MMOs in terms of time spent.

The list of things attached to my account...

The list of things attached to my account…

I am not sure where to get that listing anymore on the LOTRO site, as it has grown by a couple of items since I last looked at it.  Though if you go to Turbine’s site they still list Infinite Crisis as one of their games, at the top of the list no less, so who knows what is going on there.

However, I also went for lifetime with Star Trek Online and barely played that at all.  I opted in on STO largely based on my LOTRO experience.  If it is good once, then it ought to be good twice, right?

It was even more money than LOTRO

It was even more money than LOTRO… also, I went to Del Taco once…

But STO never caught my fancy and all my attempts to return to the game have ended in minutes… well, hours if you count trying to figure out how to access my account after all the changes that have hit the game.

So I am only batting .500 on lifetime subscriptions.

My experience with STO, with LOTRO, and with MMOs in general have made it unlikely that I would ever invest in a lifetime option again.  And I write that with the world circa 2009 as context.  I would likely not by another lifetime subscription again, even were we still deep in the era of monthly subscriptions.

Is that a squirrel or what?

Well, maybe if it was this cheap… and for a game with a future

Here in the age of F2P and cash shops, the age of PLEX and WoW Tokens, the age of lockboxes and nuisance barriers, the age of business model changes and broken dreams, the age of too many indistinguishable choices in the genre, the idea of sinking a couple of hundred bucks into an MMO on the hope that I might play it enough to get my money’s worth out of it… well… the idea just falls flat.

So color me surprised that Champions Online still had a lifetime subscription as an option… and that it was on sale for “just” $199, a third off of the usual $299 price.

Who knew?

And maybe that is a bad game to pick as an example, never having lived up to its predecessor, City of Heroes, and being run by a company that faltered and was acquired by another company that looks to be faltering, at least here in North America…. and which also happens to be the same company that owns STO.

And what does that say about lifetime subscriptions in this day and age?  Is it just another desperation move now?

I mean, if World of Warcraft offered lifetime subscriptions for $299 I am pretty confident that they would sell a million of them pretty quickly, that the store interface would go down in the rush to buy one.  But WoW is an ongoing success and the top game in its genre even with “only” 5.6 million players.  Pretenders has to get creative with things like “registered users” to get close to that number, a number is less than half of WoW at its peak.

And why would Blizzard do that?  It would be a short term boost to revenue and there would now be a floor of one million “subscribers” since lifetime is forever as long as the game is still running.  But that million would also likely be the same people who never unsubscribe from the game.

So what is a lifetime subscription for these days?  Is it a concept past its time?

Would you buy one under any circumstances today?

LOTRO and the Great Server Merge

Way back in January we had the Lord of the Rings Online Producer’s Letter outlining the plans for the game in 2015.

Opposing the orcs and wargs of misfortune?

Opposing the orcs and wargs of misfortune?

I was personally somewhat underwhelmed by the plan for 2015, especially when compare with the Dungeons & Dragons Online Producer’s Letter, which seemed to be much more upbeat and full of promise.

Still, you take what you can get.   At the time Turbine was still pouring resources into the now failed Infinite Crisis MOBA.

Those “glass half-full” fans of Middle-earth can expect more attention to their game now that Turbine is past that and has no current prospects beyond doing iOS companion games for other people’s releases.

Anyway, back in January one of the promises was to deal with server populations.  Turbine wanted to get everybody onto more populated servers.  The pan will involved closing some servers as well as hardware upgrades and location changes for remaining servers.  This was described as a “large and complicated process.”  The basic gist was that some (or most) servers would be closed and players would be allowed to transfer to the remaining active servers, which was sort-of how Rift handled their server closures back when they were in their first post-launch contraction.

Of course, the team at Trion was clear up front that such transfers would be free while Turbine spent more than a week failing to clarify the transfer situation, dodging repeated direct questions about that fundamental issue while devoting time to addressing what I would uncharitably characterize as trivia by comparison.

Turbine eventually did indicate that the server transfers would not have an associated cost.  But you have to wonder, given how long it took them to answer that very simple “yes/no” question what they had in mind at the start.

There is a dev post about the transfers listing out the details.  It looks like ALL transfers will be free from whenever they start through October 1st, and after that the no-cost option will be limited to getting yourself, your kinship, and your characters off of a closed server.  That seems reasonable enough.  That just left us wondering which servers would be closed.

We now have an answer to that question.

US Servers Being Closed

  • Darrowdelf
  • Elendilmir
  • Firefoot
  • Imladris
  • Meneldor
  • Nimrodel
  • Riddermark
  • Silverlode
  • Vilya
  • Windfola

EU Servers Being Closed   

  • Anduin
  • Eldar
  • Estel
  • Gilrain
  • Maiar
  • Morthond
  • Snowbourn
  • Vanyar
  • Withywindle

That is the majority of the LOTRO servers, though as we read earlier this year via an insider leak, there was a great deal of optimism on how many people would play the game when it went free to play.

That leaves the following servers up and available as transfer targets:

Remaining US Servers

  • Arkenstone
  • Brandywine
  • Crickhollow
  • Gladden
  • Landroval

Remaining EU Servers

  • Belegaer
  • Evernight
  • Gwaihir
  • Laurelin
  • Sirannon

That leaves me in an odd situation.  I have characters on four servers, and three of them are getting closed. (Actually, I am in kinships on four servers, there might me a couple more characters scattered about.)  The gut reaction, I suppose, should be, “Yay! I can consolidate!”  Only I am pretty sure I would use up all the character slots available on the remaining server if I attempted to bring over every character from Firefoot, Nimrodel, and Silverlode.

And then there is the target issue.  While I have listed the four remaining US based servers, Brandywine, which I call home as well, has a special note:

Brandywine will be unavailable for incoming transfers for a time until population and load can be re-evaluated on new hardware

I am a bit surprised that Brandywine is the special case.  I thought Landroval was the cool kids server where all the special events happened.

Anyway, that is where we stand.  It looks like Turbine has done a lot of work to make transfers accessible.  Now we will have to see how things shake out once they turn transfers on and let people move.  I might let others rush in while I wait and watch for a bit.

What Future for Turbine after Infinite Crisis?

Unfortunately, as the MOBA market matured around us as we were building the game, we simply couldn’t find enough of an audience.

Floon, Infinite Crisis Art Director, quoted at Massively OP

InfiniteCrisisIt is one of those times when I hate to be right.  I was dubious that Turbine had the gravitas to get into the MOBA genre at this late date, and it turns out that they do not.  Turbine announced yesterday that they would be shutting down their entry into the MOBA market, the perhaps all-to-aptly named Infinite Crisis.  The statement on their site was terse.

After much deliberation, we regret to announce the official shutdown of Infinite Crisis. We will end development efforts today and will close the service on August 14, 2015.

The announcement was made all the more poignant as it came on the same day that Blizzard’s champion for the MOBA arena, Heroes of the Storm, officially went live. (And now I don’t have to do a post about that, having mentioned it here.  At least until I earn the pet from it.)

I hate to be right because, while I had no real interest in the game, its abject failure leaves me wondering where Turbine goes now?  As they invested their time and resources in Infinitie Crisis, they left Asheron’s Call and Asheron’s Call 2 on auto-pilot, neither charging to play the titles nor paying much attention to them.  So I doubt there is any more revenue to be had on that front.

Which leaves only two staples in the Turbine bag, Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online.

Not that either title is dead, but at least on the LOTRO front it feels like the game is well past its prime.  The producer’s letter for the title early this year felt short on enthusiasm for me.  Expansions were out the door, server merges were going to be a fact of life, and talk of a new data center could be a bright spin on further resource consolidation for all we know.  And then there was the insider insight in to the turmoil at Turbine that no doubt sank a few optimistic spins on how things were going at the studio.

The more recent producer’s letter spun more of the same items (monster play maps, server merges, data centers, a new store) and, while it brought tales of “major content initiatives” for 2015, complete with hints about Minas Tirith, details were sparse.  Dare we speculate on what a “surprising take on the siege of Gondor” will look like from Turbine?

Meanwhile the game has been monetized to about the maximum extent they can likely manage.  The once promising F2P model that Turbine offered, where you could earn the RMT currency in-game, has expanded and consumed all, like the very darkness of Mordor, so that there is a “buy now” button of one sort or another on nearly every dialog in game.

Then there is DDO, whose 2015 producer’s letter was much more upbeat, and which felt better adapted to the F2P market to start with, never having been a “worldly” game but rather more akin to the adventure module model like table top Dungeons & Dragons.  Still, as much post-F2P conversion success as Turbine can claim for the title, a lot of that has to do with how badly it fell over after launch.  Everything is up when you have hit rock bottom.

Those two titles, in whatever shape you wish to claim they are in, look to be all Turbine has for now.  Their investment in a MOBA has yielded naught and in order for them to start working on something new they will have to continue, to a certain extent, to neglect the products that are paying all the bills.

This is practically an every day Silicon Valley dilemma, where a start up gets success on one product, does well enough, but can never get that second success as the first eventually fades.  During that stage there can be a huge amount of tension between groups. One group will want to continue to focus on, enhance, and nurture the first product.  Another group will insist that the main focus must be on finding that second product, because they know the first can’t last forever.

I’ve seen some comments out there from people who, if not cheering the demise of Infinite Crisis, are happily assuming that its fall will mean more resources for LOTRO or DDO.  I suppose Turbine could go that route, hunker down and focus on current products and hope for the best.  However, that seems unlikely, as is spells eventual death for the organization.

To survive in the long term, Turbine will need a “next” product.  But what will it be?  They have shot their bolt with Asheron’s Call by making it free.  Likewise, they played the nostalgia card with Asheron’s Call 2, only to give up and make that one free as well.  Infinite Crisis is behind them.  I don’t know what else they can do with DDO, and LOTRO is likely too mired in F2P for Turbine to play any sort of premium retro-server sort of games, like Daybreak is doing with EverQuest and the Ragefire and Lockjaw servers, in order to boost revenue.

So it feels like they have to make something new.  But in which direction will they go and do they have the resources to go very far?  I have to imagine that, after Infinite Crisis, which was purported to be eating $4 million a month in expenses, their corporate masters at WB may be unlikely to write a check to fund any big new ventures.

Yes, they have an iOS app under way in the form of Batman: Arkham Underworld.   But that sounds almost like contract work, doing a knock-off version of another title just to collect a bit of reflected glory, and is unlikely to save the farm. 

Then there is the Game of Thrones based game, which sounds a bit like an RTS from the minimal description in that Eurogamer article from a couple months back.  But that is way out in the future.  Both entail working with somebody else’s IP… again… as well as sending the company further from its MMORPG roots.

If you were running Turbine, what would you do?  Is it time for them to give up on MMOs?

LOTRO – The War of the Ring as an Eight Year Long Quagmire

Lord of the Rings Online officially went live eight years ago today.  I had been in the late beta, but made sure to note the first day that it was officially a going concern back in 2007.

Yahoo Headline 2007

Yahoo Headline 2007

Of course, one of the ongoing jokes about the game is how long it has take it to move through the story relative to how long the events in the books were reported to take.  Even allowed a generous spread of dates, say from when Gandalf warns Frodo to get out of the Shire (April 11, 3018 TA, or five months before Frodo gets off his ass and goes… hobbits…) through to when Sam Gamgee arrives back from the Grey Havens (October 6, 3021 TA) after Frodo and Bilbo depart Middle-earth, still only comes up to three and a half years.  The old LOTRO news site A Casual Stroll to Mordor came by its name honestly,

It wasn’t so bad at first.  The game only took about a year longer to get to The Mines of Moria than it took the fellowship to get through to the other side, though that still put the expansion out longer than it took to Frodo to throw down Sauron, celebrate with the new king, meander back to The Shire, fight the last battle, and start complaining about his PTSD.

But here we are, eight years in, and still in The Two Towers, with Minas Tirith still over the horizon.  I like to try to imagine the story playing out over a longer stretch, the war of the ring as an ongoing quagmire, though it requires both sides to move at a pretty lethargic pace.  Vast armies slow to form then lumbering about at a snails pace as Frodo… I don’t know what Frodo is up to.  He and Sam seem to have found something to do.

Anyway, Turbine’s vision of Middle-earth is still here to explore.  Things do not look promising, at least if you were holding out hope against hope of seeing Mount Doom or the gates of Mordor.  The look forward into 2015 seemed rather modest, and then we had all those tales of woe about Turbine itself leak.  But we are also unlikely to see as ambitious an attempt to recreate Middle-earth any time soon, so enjoy it while we have it.