Blog: Updates Coming This Fall


On Friday June 28th members of the RtM Dev team got together for a Forge Talk in our Official Discord discuss some of the updates coming to Return to Moria this Fall. You can listen back via YouTube and the Transcript of the Forge Talk is included below.


During this Forge Talk, the following blogs are discussed

Cooking -

New Items to be Found - 

Troll Challenge on Discord

Transcript for Forge Talk Episode 4:

Please note: Some aspects of the transcript have been edited and it is not a 1:1 match to the audio, our aim is to capture the conversation as closely as possible while ensuring clarity for those reading without the audio. -Clare

Clare Byrne: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Forge Talk Episode 5. We'll be primarily focusing on the two blogs about new stuff that's coming in our third title update later this year, which is due in fall alongside the Steam and the Xbox release.

So between now and then we’ll be revealing details, writing blogs, and giving teasers as to what these things will look like. I'm sure there's probably a bit more that we will let players discover themselves by actually playing the game, but we want to give you a taste of what's to come as well.

For those of you who are new here, you're very welcome. For returning people, you're also very welcome. Welcome, everybody. I'm Clare, I'm the community manager. So you guys want to introduce yourselves as well? 

Jon-Paul Dumont: Sure. I'm Jon-Paul, I'm the Game Director here at Free Range Games. 

Bradley Fulton: And, I'm Bradley Fulton, and I'm the Art Director here on Return to Moria / Free Range Games.

CB: Awesome. So, I guess, do you want to get started with the cooking blog? Or is there anything you wanted to touch on before we dive into that?

JD: Well yeah can jump right into it, and one thing I know is, we'll get a lot of questions about, there's a couple of big topics that have been going around that we see asked in the Discord a lot around Xbox and Crossplay and all we can really say is that we've got some big announcements slated for mid and late July and then another big announcement in early August. So, there'll be a lot more information coming out over the course of the next month about features like that, as well as a more specific date than “fall” for when everything is going to come out. So those are coming and we're excited to talk more about them.

CB: Crossing the T's and dotting the I's at the moment, I guess.

JD: Yeah. And I did see, I know we were going to do questions at the end, I did see 1armedwolf’s question about the lighting and I want to make a request out to the community. We know about a bunch of the lighting issues, and we're working on fixing them as soon as we can. One thing that would really help is people taking videos when they see lights turning off in their base or being darker than it should be. Any video content that people could submit through the proper channels would be really helpful for us, because it turns out it's actually like 2 or 3 different issues and we want to make sure we fix all of them. So just a call to the community: When you see weird lighting stuff happening try to get a video for us if you're hooked up for that. It would be really helpful. 

CB: I want to give a shout out, before we continue, to Guy who actually sent me two videos just before the Forge Talk, because I had mentioned that in the questions thread as well, so thank you for that. I've passed them on and we appreciate everything people send us. If you could send them through the support and feedback channel, the link in there is probably the best way to make sure that we kind of get everything together and nothing gets lost in the chat and discord, because while we try to read everything, there are things that we can miss and we don't want to miss out on valuable information.

Editors Note: Please send any videos or issue reports via to us via our Support Page

JD: Cool. That said, let's jump into cooking! So we are in the midst of also working on getting the game out to new platforms. I think everybody knows that we are counting down to when we're going to be on Steam. Everyone's really excited about that on our side, to be able to have Epic, Steam and PlayStation 5, along with other announcements coming up.

We aren't just doing the work to put it on Steam, we're also continuing to make the game better. And one of the persistent things that we knew coming out of beta that we've been really wanting to get to, was “how do we make the cooking system feel better?” I feel like we kind of hit the goal of something that I feel is kind of unique, which maybe why some people love it, some people don't. But by creating this separation of food between rations, and things that you can take with you out into the world, and meals on a table set with a table cloth and a candle to create this idea of you and your friends, or you on your own, come and have a meal.

And I think the meal content is pretty fun and Dwarfy, and the recipes are fun and Dwarfy, but we consistently in our own play and our own observations of people playing, felt like every meal was the same and there really wasn't much reason to think about which one you were going to do versus another.

So, the blog we wrote up is a preview of an update to the cooking system we're going to do in the next update. And one of the big things we wanted to do was, we really set out to at least give you a moment of interesting choice when it's time to cook. And so we started with what would feel Dwarfy, what would feel Tolkien. The first one we started with was meal times. So an idea that there are some meals that are breakfast and some are lunch and some are dinner, which we had already kind of designed a bit into but we didn't really lean into it mechanically.

If you're looking at the blog, what we did was we designated meals as this is breakfast, this is lunch, this is dinner. And then we have the time indicator at the bottom left on the HUD, so now,  you can eat whenever, whatever you want and you'll still fill up your food meter and a good amount of the complex meals will still give you health, but now, instead of every meal giving you basically the same kind of well-fed buff, you get a slightly different buff depending on what time of day you eat it. We kind of wanted to have this cycle, this loop of players deciding what to do at different times.

So with breakfast - actually I need to remind myself, I need to double check because it's so new, it's not like off the top of my head -  we will have better names for them, but right now, you can see, even in the blog, we've got our temporary names of breakfast buff, lunch buff. Breakfast buffet, basically, helps with your energy. So essentially it gives you more energy as you play, by discounting the things that you would go out and do. And then the dinner buff basically is your bonus to restoration. So that's the time to kind of fix up, build up your base. And…oh Bradley, what does the lunch buff do? Ah, embarrassing! [laughs] I’m on stage and I can’t remember!

BF: Uh… your lack of memory has infected me too! The point was we wanted to reinforce a little bit of role-play-

JD: It’s health regen!

BF: Yeah, health regen, there we go! Because we wanted it to be about like “I'm getting ready for my day. Then I'm going out on an adventure. And then when I'm exhausted from an adventure, I come back home to base to rest.” But I'm also like, “I've gathered a bunch of resources. I'm going to put them in my storage. I'm going to repair my base, I'm going to fix my weapons, I'm going to cook a meal for breakfast the next morning.” And so we wanted there to be kind of like there's a domestic buff and there's a getting out and going on an adventure buff.

JD: So breakfast gives you a bonus to your energy and discounts actions that take energy. The lunch buff gives you better health regeneration. And then the dinner buff gives you advantages in building and restoration. So you can see how it kind of works into that, that daily cycle. And they last a good amount of time. So it's really just about timing. 

And then the other thing we did was, we also found that once you built a hearth all the meals were on the hearth, and that the meals that were on the advanced stations, like the stove and, barbecue or the fire pit, were more complex, but they didn't necessarily give you a benefit for that much more ingredients. So we returned it so that the ones that take more ingredients, give you a much better benefit than the ones that only take one ingredient. And then we made it so that the hearths are good for quick meals in a pinch, so a small handful of simple meals, but that the bulk of the meals, the good ones that are two, three, four ingredients, are going to be on the more advanced cooking stations.

Hopefully that will diversify your cooking area, make your base look a little more interesting. And in our internal playtests, it created this really fun dynamic of you looking at the clock and going, “okay, well, the next meal I need to make is breakfast. I don't have any eggs. Oh, I remember…” and suddenly, for the first time, it felt like I was going out seeking particular food ingredients rather than just gathering what I had, making sure I had room for Khuzdul oats for my brew and that was it. And I don’t know about you Bradley but I would tend to accidentally slip into eating nothing but roast meat, and mushroom stew. So now it actually feels like there's a little bit more of a diversity and a reason to pick different meals.

BF: Yeah because way back in the beginning when we started coming up with these different ingredients and the original recipes, part of the effort was to make sure that there were different things to find that would be there in Moria and that there's a diversity of ingredients, but not every ingredient had an equal role.

By splitting these up into the three meals and then having an adequate number of recipes for each meal, there's a lot of different ways you can sort of slice that. And so you get a lot more excited when you find a particular ingredient. You know, mushrooms are a very specific thing, in the very beginning of the game examples that everyone should be familiar with. It’s like. “meat’s used for this and mushrooms are used for this, and cranberries are used for this.” and then that pattern kind of continues throughout the game. So you get really excited when you find a new ingredient and then each one of them will have its own time of day when it's really useful. As you go through the game, you're going to encounter and find even more of these. So, yeah, it puts a finer point on some of the things that were true before, you know, there was a difference between the meals, but I think some of that didn't come across as clearly as it should. And I think this really kind of crystallizes everything into a system that makes a lot more sense. 

JP: To tie in to the second blog we're going to talk about, one of the things that was really important for me, it was not just sort of hoovering up whatever food happens to be in front of you, but actually thinking about what you need and making sure that there is a kind of a breakfast, lunch and dinner that is easy to gather when you're in the Elven Quarter or the Western Halls. There is breakfast, lunch and dinner that are appropriate or easier to gather when you're in the deeps, as well as Dwarrowdelf and on into Baranzibar so that you didn't feel like you had to go “ugh I want food again. I’ve got a fast travel back to the elven quarter”, you know, it sort of becomes a little too rote, which again, feeds into the next one with exploration.

I always felt like one of the things that I was missing in my play, and I think this comes through in feedback that we’ve gotten, is there's these points in your play where you kind of know what you need to do, and you're really just waiting, waiting on your ingots to finish being smelted, or you find like it's really fun early in the game to go into a building and smash everything. And then by the sixth building and it's just cloth scraps again, you're kind of like, “what's going on?” So I felt like one of the things that parts of the game that were too light and could stand to be a little more dense in terms of gameplay, is in the exploration.

So part of this cooking is really thinking about the food you want or being excited- [Laughs] -with the new recipes, you guys will see this when we launch the update, suddenly when you see cranberries, you beeline for them! [BF laughs] It's true! And there's ones in the, in the deeps and there's ones in Dwarrowdelf. Suddenly, it's not just something that's polluting my inventory and those seeds become a lot more important because the meals that use the stuff you can only grow from seed are better, but that kind of feeds into the next one of exploration.

And there's a lot of stuff in the exploration blog, if you guys haven't read it. But, speaking as a game designer, the number one design goal for me was I felt like there's too many times in the game where you can go minutes without feeling rewarded for exploring. Bradley's heard me tell the story a lot, of going through and playing the game and descending the Crystal Descent and seeing a dirt plug and going, “oh, man, there's that. There must be something really cool behind there!” and digging out the dirt plug, killing the spiders there, and realizing there was nothing there. And that's just not fun.

I'm sure a lot of us that are in, here in, in the Forge Talk have had an experience kind of like that and so I really wanted to try to eliminate that. We wanted to reward everybody for going into that building you haven't gone into and turning the corner. And so to do that, we kind of needed some more stuff and ways to communicate that stuff. So one thing we can start with, Bradley, your team did a lot of work on this, when there is something cool, like a carving, you can actually see it from a distance. And another is making new containers so you can peer into a building or around a corner and see if it's worth going into. If you want to talk a little bit about those. 

BF: Yeah. Actually there's a third category too, which is you can now arrange these by rarity. There's some of these you're going to be seeing a lot, and then some you're going to be seeing kind of uncommon ,and then some are going to be quite rare. And you know, from the beginning it was really important to us that it was fun to discover and smash things where it was appropriate. And there's a lot of just debris in the world. But then when you go into a building, narratively there would be some things that would be dropped by, you know, if you need cloth, your cloth will show up in dressers, you know, and so you could use your, you know, survival brain to just kind of intuit where things would be, but we didn't go so far as to have, like, special kinds of containers that would have special kinds of things.

So this is something that we've spent some effort on. When you get into a building, there's a couple new kinds of containers, some are just new art for a thing that we had before, it was just so subtle that I think, even in our own playtests, we weren't spotting and understanding what was going to be in that thing.

So there's a new food jar, it's white, like a nice glazed white pot that kind of stands out from the environment and you’ll know when you smash that, “Ah, the rations might be in that!”,  and then there's also a couple new crates that are gilded, they're gold trimmed crates. It's always exciting when you see the glint of gold, it’s kind of an instinct, it's exciting to find those and you'll know that you're going to find special things in there.

Then there’s a third level and these are special chests that contain really rare stuff and they're a lot more rare in the world. That's a gold covered chest and those have been deliberately placed in places that are a little out of reach or you're only going to find them if you went off the beaten path. Like all the stuff in our world, they're all placed somewhat randomly. So if you find an environment you might maybe feel a little familiar with, you're not necessarily going to find the same things in the same places. That's just there to really get that excitement, that moment of discovery when you've taken a little bit of extra time and kind of wandered into some of the darker and deeper places.

JD: And the.. Food Vase? What did you call it? We never named them…

BF: Yeah, they don’t have a name, because you never see a name show up when you’re in the world. The idea being that in Ancient Khazad-dûm, they would have had containers to store their, food long term. And these are a few that have remained and somehow that dried fruit has managed to last for 2000 years or a thousand years!

JD: Ancient first age food preservation techniques.

BF: [Laughs] They were really good at food preservation!

JD: And that's another sort of mechanical thing we wanted to do, and this really relates to the game's tuning, while I love the gameplay dynamic of the meals, and having to come back to your base in order to really refresh, I know that that can be a little jarring for people.

We want our game to be accessible, and there's some people that just kind of want a Lord of the Rings adventure, and so one of the things we're doing is those jars, almost always when you see one of those jars, there's going to be a ration inside of it. Westgate is going to have a lot of them. That way when you're early in the game, and you're just still kind of getting used to the mechanics, you'll end up with your pockets will have a lot of cram in them, which seems Dwarfy.

So, those treasure chests, the funny thing about it is how often we debated in development of the 1.0 game, having treasure chests out in the world. We were like, “Well, the dwarves wouldn't just leave treasure chests out! That's not very Dwarfy!” And eventually we realized we were like, “yeah but for gameplay. It's fun to just turn a corner and see a chest and go, ooh, and have some gold ingots in it.” So, you know, we decided to lean a little bit into the game fun part on that side.

But when you see one of those containers and they're up on a ledge in an odd place and there's an orc encampment right below it and a couple of wolves on your tail, you definitely go “Okay, I'm going to figure out how to get up there…” because they're usually really rich and the kind of things that are going to be in them, we’re really striving to tune them, so when you find one you really feel like you’re fast forwarding past those points where you’re just waiting for the Steel Ingots to finish so you can get your armor and move on. And then you find one of those chests and it’s got 5 Steel Ingots in it! And you’re like “Ah ha! Bonus! Let’s go!

BF: Yeah, and then there’s also the Knowledge. Did we want to talk a little about that?

JD: Yeah lets jump to that and then we’ll hit the âbakhs after. Coming back to, if we want to reward you for searching for every nook and cranny, we needed more things for you to find and so the containers were about making it really obvious that there is something there worth going to to get, so it helps you manage your own time a little bit and never feed like, you know, I never really liked that experience of going into a building and there were about eight crates, and they all just had the exact same thing in them, and I just eventually go, “well, why would I ever go in the building anymore? It's not worth it.” So now there's a lot of reasons to go in the building!

But then we began figuring out “How do we have more stuff to collect?” so the next one was, well, we always had books and scrolls [pronunciation sounding similar to “Skrulls”], and we- scrolls… I don’t know why whenever I say the word scroll I feel like I’m talking about Skrulls, and it’s like “this is not a Marvel game…” [JD and BF laugh] Sorry, anyway! -but we wanted you to find those things. We added a new mechanic and we also felt like for our builders out there, we have a lot of ways to buff yourself for combat and we have a lot of ways to buff yourself for mining. But we didn't feel like we really had a way that you could buff yourself for building. And so we were like, “let's just try to do both of these things together”.

So now what we have is this special build lore bookcase and scroll shelf. You can build them in your base and then you go out in your world and find, and scavenge, these build lore books and scrolls, and you bring them back. Then as you fill- think of them kind of like a treasure pile, but the treasure is knowledge -you fill these two bookcases and shelves up, you can study them- again using the analogy, like you admire the treasure or honor the dwarf memorial -you can study the knowledge shelf and that will give you a new buff.

And that that buff is, I think it's kind fun, it gives you a little endorphin drip. It just means that there is a percentage chance that every time you build something, that it kind of does a little dice roll, and if the dice rolls in your favor based on how good of a buff you have, you just get to build whatever the thing you were about to build. You build it for free, and you get to keep the ingredients and use it on something else.

So, you know, one of the obvious questions is, “why didn't you just make everything a little bit cheaper while you got the buff going?” And part of that is we just didn't tune the original costs of things that way. And we found that there were a couple of weird, weird things that happened when we did that and it was impossible to tune it where you couldn't just go and like, kill your performance by building 50 things in 10 seconds. So, this one actually felt both like, it was giving you, in aggregate, the same kind of advantage as if we just made everything cheaper, but adds in that little bit of slot machine fun. You never know which one is going to be the thing that you get for free.

So I'm pretty excited about it! Man, when you go and break something in a building in Westgate and find one of those books, it feels pretty good.

BF: Yeah, when we rolled out the cosmetic bookshelves in, I believe the last update, we knew that we wanted there to be some more meaning to that and this was kind of already in the works. So what we've done is we've built, we've created, some new objects. So they're these feel like special shelves, you know, they're this is where you keep all your best stuff in your home and we wanted to just hit the theme of finding lost knowledge. To a Dwarf that would probably be just as important, to recover the knowledge of their the ancestors Khazad-dûm, as it would be to recover the wealth, you know, because ultimately you could find wealth, short of Mithril, you could find it in any old mountain, but there are certain things that you can only find in Khazad-dûm.

So, this really kind of like, it adds a whole ‘nother loop, and another thing to discover. And you'll find some of these in different kinds of places than you might find those other, things that we just talked about earlier. So, you know, we had beautiful art for the books in the scrolls, it was one of those things that, like, added a lot of dimension to the world and it's really great to actually have them have, like, some meaning and some real fun gameplay attached to them.

JD: Yeah. And that leads to the last thing that we wanted to talk about, again, if the whole theme is being purposeful when you go out and explore and being excited when you find stuff and having a lot more stuff to find, we added a whole new gameplay concept and mechanic, which are the âbakhs. I think that's how you would say it. Again, I can't pronounce Khuzdul. Maybe I need to get David [Salo] to give me a pronunciation guide. Like “with the A with the hat… Is that, Ah?, Ah-bach? Ae-bach?”  Someone in the chat can tell me what an A with a hat over it is!

So what we did was we created [Laughs] this is a joke, we decided what's better than having 1 or 2 buffs on your HUD? How about six buffs on your HUD? [JD and BF laugh] So we're polluting your buff side a little bit, but I think you'll like it! And what we did is we created this concept of these small objects that you can craft, and mostly collect, that the Dwarf would imagine it's like a rune on a bit of rock and by smashing the rock in their hand, gain an ability.

And so this is where we're going to let players have, for a pretty short period of time - you're going to want a bunch of these sitting around - you know, 20, 30 seconds, you get a little bit of a boost. Some of these boosts or things that you could previously only get from the brews, but also solve little things, like how often are you out in the world, you know, you're in the lower deeps, you're trying to take out an Orc camp and you get poisoned and, for whatever reason, you didn't have the Scour ale with you… and now you just poisoned. You have to just sit there and take it until the timer is up. It's not very fun. So if you look at the list in the blog, that's one of the ones, you can keep this little âbakh with you. You can consume it and essentially- it's complex game design writing of “reduces poison build up rate and increases this poison recovery rate” -and it's essentially cures poison.

You can cure shadow, you can give yourself a bonus to your armor effectiveness, to your attack power, increase in stamina and probably I think my favorite one is the free sprint, especially early in the game. I definitely collect and hoard those, swift ones, because when you're, you know, before you have fast travel and you're just going back and forth between your first Balin Camp and the Elven Quarter, just breaking up one of those swift âbakhs and being able to run without your stamina depleting is is pretty fun.

So they're going to be rare, but you're going to bust out one of those new gilded chests and find 1 or 2 of these. You will find that the Orcs are hoarding depleted ones, and so there's more things, more incentives, between coins and black diamonds and now the depleted âbakhs, which you can use to craft new ones. There's just a lot more things to go and get out in the world. So as you're collecting those and then crafting those and then in the late game - so in the early game, it's going to be about which ones have you found and collected - And then in the late game it's going to be which ones do you craft ahead of a big fight.

But in our first playtest with this we were about to turn on the forge, you know, that Navis Forge, and we knew a horde was coming, and so we loaded up and we just used all the âbakhs that we had collected and it definitely was- we felt a lot more prepared and it was really fun to do!

And then this also opens up down the line more of these. You know, it's a really easy kind of content to add. So, we're really excited about this new kind of way to interact with the game, new thing to collect, yeah.

BF: Yeah and in the concept of them, you know, we wanted to take this is another opportunity to kind of try to explain how Dwarves and the Dwarves of Middle-earth were a little different, maybe, from the other peoples of Middle-earth and, like, how they would go about doing this kind of thing.

So whereas it might have been like a medicine or a potion or something for some other people, you know, for Dwarves it's all through the craft and in particular through the craft of stone and gems and those kinds of materials, the craft of the earth. So we wanted to create something that, like, adds a little bit of, you know, reinforces that kind of the Dwarven fiction, and stands out as something that's more memorable.

JD: And it gave me an excuse to make up a whole new thing and not have to come up with a gameplay name for it. I could just find a Khuzdul name for it. [BF laughs] So, it may not seem like I'm trying to be disciplined, but I'm really not trying to name everything a Khuzdul name. [All Laugh] So, I decided not to call the book some obscure name, so we do hear “books”.

I see actually, NorthrenLordFang [in the live chat], about the horde lure mechanic, I was watching Dune 2 and in the theater I was watching, going “I need one of those worm calling thumper things for a horde”. [BF and CB Laugh] We don't have it, we don't have it for this update. But we have debated that that would be fun!

And we have, I mean, someday, if we ever get a chance to kind of -  you know, sometimes games, it's always dangerous to talk about things that we worked on and developed and then didn't, it didn't end up shipping - but we had a prototype -  so I'm going to do it. I just said it's dangerous to do it, but I'm going to do it because it's fun! 

We had a prototype of a fourth kind of song, which was a battle song, that would essentially attract, it would like, spawn enemies and bring them to you. And, it was pretty neat, but, you know, like all game dev, you don't always have all the time to do everything to quality, but, I still think about that prototype every once in a while. Or maybe just giving you the thumper, both of those would be pretty fun! So maybe we'll add that some future ideas to to think about.

But, you know, going back to the exploration blog and the âbakhs, there's also a couple other little things that we added, they're not really  in the blog that you'll find we added a new, one new ore, that you will find and that be instrumental in crafting these âbakhs, these boosts.

And one last thing that we added in is we felt like for the amount of annoyance and gameplay, like, that - maybe not annoyance is not the right thing - the amount of pain you have to go through to deal with shadow vents, without some upside to it, didn't feel right. So what we did is we went back to an old lore idea we had, which is if you're really deep in the lore and you've read all the different little books we've put, there's these little hints, that Durin the First had all the same problems with these shadow events that you're run into, except he was Durin the First and over a millennia figured out how to beat it all, and that's where all those Durin lamps are from. The idea being that each one of these shadow events has been that same place for a long time, it's just Khazad-dûm, at its height, had a lot more lamps and other ways to suppress that shadow.

And so what we've done is created a new kind of crystalline crafting material we call Mahal's gift, and you can find these at the center of a shadow vent, and these are going to be useful in crafting anti-shadow things and I think we're going to adjust the lamp recipes. One of the things we want to do is make it a little easier to build the Durin lamps earlier in the game. You know, it's kind of a late game or almost end game thing, and we want to pull that in a little bit earlier so you feel like you can do more than just build a plank boardwalk over all the shadow.

So those are things that we're thinking about, again going back to rewarding you for being curious and exploring.

CB: That sounds really cool-

JD: Yeah, we powered through that! Go ahead Clare.

CB: Yeah, there's lots of stuff to digest there, but I have a few questions that I grabbed from the chat. I think one of the, the important ones that I've seen a few people mention is will, like, the chests and the ore and all that sort of stuff, is that going to be a new game only type thing? Is it going to be able- like people, who already have existing worlds that they absolutely love, will these items still pop up in their world?

BF: Some of these will show up. It depends on how and where they're found. And, off the top of my head, I'm not 100%, the specific like, methods that we do this I don't have, but, some things  will drop just naturally in existing worlds. Some things that depend on finding a spot in the world for them may only show up in new generations, I believe is the case. So like, the really rare chests, I think it's something that will only show up in, in new generations, where it's being placed in a location that's new. So it's kind of a mix. It's a little of one and a little of the other.

CB: Yeah, that makes sense. Oh, that's also the kind of thing that, when we're doing out the release notes, we'll be able to then be able to list-

BF: -be more specific, yeah.

JD: Yeah, and one of the reasons we're being vague is we always intend to get everything into existing worlds, but there's always, because the game has so much kind of user generated, you guys have so much agency over your worlds, it's not straightforward to inject things, new things, into old worlds without being destructive.

You know, for anybody who played back with the original 1.1 update back in December and we would do an earthquake and the earthquake would kind of scramble things and that was a really easy way to inject new things into old worlds, but over time, as people's worlds have gotten more elaborate and you've done more work, we started to feel like a heavy earthquake in order to inject content wasn't quite worth what it could do to your existing buildings. And so that's why I think Bradley's answer is - the system is basically going to try to figure out if it can, it will, and if it can't, it will choose not to destroy your existing stuff - so, that's why it's a little bit of a mixed bag.

BF: Yeah, it's a lot. Technically it's a lot safer for us to, like, add new space to the world, because, you know, you all wouldn't have been able to put something in that new space that didn't exist. But anywhere we're adding something to a space that you already had access to, you know, there's always the chance that you may have made some really awesome creation right on that spot and then anything we added would just suddenly appear, and that can create all kinds of issues. So we generally try to avoid that kind of thing and that's one of the reasons why some of this will only come about in new generations.

JD: Yeah, it's a good question.

CB: Yeah. That all makes sense.

JD: Oh! One thing that will definitely happen is that any new buildables, like the bookshelf and the scroll shelf, that will be in all worlds. So when in doubt - those of you on in the chat I'm assuming know how to do this - when in doubt, if you're not finding a lot of books in your old world, you can still build the bookshelf and then go into another world and harvest books and bring them back.

CB: Yeah. Well, that's always the nice thing is that you can, and I know players do that a lot, is that they hop over to other worlds for resources or extra things or like-

JD: Like your farm world?

CB: Yeah, or the stuff that's exclusive to the sandbox that you can bring back.

JD: That reminds me, and we probably should have mentioned this at the top, because we haven't had a forge talk since we did it. But the since our last Forge Talk, we did put out a patch on PS5, to further lessen the instances of people losing worlds and saves on PS5.

So hopefully I haven't seen a whole lot about that lately. So I think, you know, no news is good news? But I guess a call if you're on PS5, you know, please continue to let us know if you're having any save game issues. But we did put that rapid patch out.

CB: Yeah and thank you again to everyone who who helped us by sending us information, for that because like, as always, players being able to tell us what they see from their side really helps us to, recreate it internally even or try and test it ourselves because that then helps us look at like what could be causing the issue and narrows down the search an awful a lot, which is really, really helpful.

So I have a few cooking questions that I spotted, Stóri asked: Will there be a penalty for eating simple stuff? or not, like sticking to your breakfast, lunch and dinner, like if you ever consider just eating the same thing.

JD: Yeah. No, no penalty. I mean, you'll still refill your hunger bar and you'll still gain your health back. It’s just, before we were kind of giving out health regeneration on everything, not everything, but on a lot of things and it it felt very flat. In fact, it does create one thing that we're still kind of playtesting this, but there is an interesting dynamic of you going to have to do a little bit of time math in your head, because if you start building lunch at lunchtime and then you get distracted and you come back, it's not lunch time anymore. We're trying to decide what to do about that.

CB: That’s just daily life for me. [All laugh]

JD: Yeah, ‘cause if your Dwarf has ADHD and you forget to eat… so, you know, no penalty, but that's where we shifted it from being everything about health, regeneration and refilling your hunger bar. And now it's getting your health back, fill in your hunger bar, and then that extra bonus of, like, we put the regions on the sort of timed meals as opposed to on everything.

CB: Cool. While you were discussing all the different recipes and that sort of thing, it became very clear that the chat absolutely loves cranberries and how valuable they actually are- [All laugh]

JD: “Cranberry House” this is a great name for that one location! [All laugh again].

CB: -but it was asked, like, would you ever consider adding bee or cranberry farming to the game to make it easier to find them?

JD: It's on our list to investigate. And we actually, we wanted to try it for this update, but it ended up being- weirdly with game dev, you know, like, it's so counterintuitive. Some things you're like, “That's easy! There's probably like one line of code and a 3D model!” and you're just like, “Oh no, that's not as easy…” we want to do it, but not this update.

CB: Good to know that. It's like on the “maybe future” list. ….Sorry. Scanning down through my notes.

Oh, this is a question that Guy posted in the thread I’d posted asking for questions, and I loved it so much that I am going to try and read it exactly as it was written. Okay. “With the new cooking coming, how am I going to explain to my dwarves that they can just have bangers and mash for breakfast, second breakfast for the Blue Mountain lads, lunch and dinner?” So, do you have an tips on how to break it to them? [All Laugh]

JD: You can, you absolutely can! I don't know, Bradley, if you've got a thought on that one?

BF: I mean, that's sounds like a pretty, pretty good way to live.

JD: It's a good problem to have.

BF: Yeah. You could always eat those things and then also eat the stuff that will give you the buffs.

CB: Oooo second helpings!

BF: Yeah!

JD: You know, this update is the first time we intentionally put an Easter egg in the game.

CB: [Gasps] Oooh, interesting!

JD: And it's a really easy one to find.

CB: All right [Laughs]

JD: It'll be like within five minutes of the update going out, everyone will find it.

CB: Oh well, I’m looking forward to people finding it though. That’ll be fun!  …Kind of, I guess, slightly off topic, but on topic as well. Vega56 asks do you prefer Campaign or Sandbox? And I know it was kind of asked to the chat in general, but I'm also curious about yourselves now that you've played tested so much, do you actually have a preference?

JD: Bradley, I'll let you start with this one.

BF: Yeah. I mean, at this stage, I absolutely do, only because we've been, you know, we've been playing this game as we've been building it now, for a number of years. And, I've played especially that first, maybe 2 to 5 hours of campaign, maybe 100 hundreds of times at this point.

And I remember when we first turned the switch on for sandbox and we had our very first playtest, and jumping over the wall in aftermath and landing in a new location - and of course, it's the location we've been to before, because one of the things about sandbox, it's just we were sort of scrambling a lot of the stuff that we already had, but adding a lot, it sort of it felt very fresh because of the way it was being mixed up - but just jumping over that wall and falling down into like a ruined Dwarf hall or something was like, “oh, what is this!?” You know, it felt like we were playing an entirely new game.

And add to that all of the other improvements that we've made, some of which are in this update, some of which we had already released in earlier updates, it just felt like a fresh experience. So, yeah, I'd say if you've played a lot of campaign, you know, sandbox has a lot of appeal. But if you haven't played the game at all, campaign is a fantastic way to have your first experience. So yeah, I think it just kind of depends on where I’m at.

CB: Yeah. I think that's something I've seen like, because we obviously have lots of new Dwarves joining us for their exploration and return to Moria and they often ask because a lot of Dwarves that we have have been here since the beginning, and that those are starting off fresh. They often ask like, what they should go with, campaign or sandbox? And often people will say, start with campaign, because sandbox remixes things a lot and it might get a bit confusing if you're diving in the deep end for your first adventure.

JD: Yeah. I think in terms of like - if it really kind of depends - I mean if the question is my personal preference? I still find myself going back to campaign and that's probably not a strange answer. But, you know, having played it a lot, it is nice. I think my favorite, we mentioned the first few moments of sandbox, I think is my favorite dynami”c. And sandbox is - campaign is just a kind of, in some ways, you're kind of on a Disneyland ride, you know? It's like, “hey, let's go to the next thing, let's go to the next thing!” and for me, the first time we played sandbox that was really fun for me was, there was no Balin camp, there was no tutorial and so suddenly you're running around and you're like, “oh, this is interesting. This is different.” And then you realize you're like, “I'm hungry and it's nighttime and oh my goodness, I need to sleep. And I haven't thought about this and where am I supposed to go?” And then you kind of just pick a building and squat in it, and then suddenly that random building is your base for a couple of hours and then you kind of poke one area in and you're like, “oh, I don't want to go that way!

So there is a lot that is fun for sandbox, but, you know, the work we put into the campaign I'm still really proud of. So I guess it's a hard question for me to answer. But if I were to start a new game right now, just because, like Bradley said, we put so many hours into playing campaign as we are testing… I think my Epic, you know, like the stores tell you how long you've played a game. I think I'm at like 150 on the Steam and then like 450 on Epic or something, just from, like, testing. And you'd be shocked at how much of that is just the first two hours of the game over and over again! [BF and CB laugh] That’s how development goes. Good question though.

CB: Yeah, definitely. I don't think I have a preference, yeah. I think, I love a story to a game. So I think that's why I quite like campaign an awful lot because I like following stories and narratives and also finding things like lore in the world.

BF: Yeah,I think campaign leans a little bit more on big moments, and I'm not going to I'm not going to reference any specific big moments for those who haven't beaten the campaign yet! But we knew where you were going to go, we knew what you were going to experience generally when you were going to experience it and so we kind of lean on that a little bit more. And with sandbox, you know, where really the objective is to kind of get out of your way and many of those big moments are still there, but some of them might show up a couple times in a couple different places.

And so I think also your experience of sandbox is going to be different if you've already played and beaten the campaign once before, then if you were playing it for the first time. So yeah, I think both of them are great for first time players, but also they cater a little bit more to sort of different tastes, you know, what you're trying to get out of the game.So, more than anything, we just wanted to be able to have the option for you guys to choose, you know, which one you wanted to do and in what order.

CB: So going back through some questions from the thread again, this was asked by Batonnet Fripotin - I am sorry if I have pronounced your name wrong - but it's also asked often by the community, and I think some other people chimed in to say they'd like to hear about this as well. Which is, they love restoring Moria, but there's often little debris left on the ground that some people just build floors over. Is there any thoughts, even in the future, about maybe a way to kind of just sweep those up out of the way to restore the floors to their former glory?

BF: It's something that we want to do. I'll say that. There's the way that the world gets assembled - I'll get a little technical here for a second - the way that the world is assembled, there's a couple different kinds of ways that we put that debris in. And when we were putting the world together for the first time, you know, we wanted to really make sure we were hitting the feel of this is a place that has been, you know, abandoned and then inhabited by Orcs for many hundreds of years, and get that feel right.

And in doing so, we used a couple methods that were harder to undo or more complicated to undo than others. So, you know, certainly like, if you put down a hearth, any in the area around the hearth, it'll clean up one kind of [the debris] automatically. That might also be something that not everyone is aware of, although probably most of the players here are. That only catches some, there are some other things, you know, like the floor itself, might have damage to it and then there's some other kinds of ways that we put in some of the debris.

I will say that any new content that we're doing, we're kind of being a lot more mindful about what kinds of things we're putting in and how we're putting it in so that we don't kind of have more of that, that you're like, well, how would the player be able to clean that up? and just mitigate that a bit. But I will say, that it is something that we'd also like to address, because we knew that restoration of something and cleaning up and restoring Moria is something that we wanted to really have be one of the gameplay themes but then that means a bunch of different kinds of features and we made sure we covered sort of the main things about restoring buildings and cleaning up the big piles of debris and breaking that kind of thing, but taking it all the way, it's something that, we'd still like to do, in the future.

CB: Yeah, that makes sense, I suppose- ….Oh, nope, my brain just lost a sentence is going to say… oh I’m sorry! [All laugh]

Yeah… Oh! I remember now I was actually going to ask a question. The amount of, I guess, passion from the players to restore Moria to, like, absolute tiptop condition. Has that surprised you? Is it more than you thought there would be, considering you're now changing your considerations moving forward?

BF: I'm actually, and honestly, not that surprised because even just within our team, you know, there's a good mix and there are definitely some folks that are really passionate about that. So it's always been a thing that was on our minds. And I'm actually really kind of satisfied to find that the community at large feels the same way about it.

And it really just comes down to, in game development, sometimes you have to make some hard choices about, “well, we could do this, but it's going to be very technically complicated or it's going to create other- we have to compromise somewhere else to make that possible” and so we try to draw the line where we thought, you know, created the right balance. I think, moving forward, I think maybe that line could be pushed a little bit further, the other way. So, yeah.

CB: So the next question kind of leads into like another topic we were going to touch on in the notes. DurinDeathless this was asking - and this, I believe, came out of a conversation that was had in the The Troll Challenge thread after it was finished- 

JD: Oh yeah we should talk about that!

CB: Was there any chance of adding Stone Giants or other- I think they're pretty big, right? They're like outside of Moria or in the Misty Mountains…in my memory, anyway.

JD: That's a great question. There are some topics we'd love to explore that are probably tied up in future projects.

CB: Oh.

BF: Yeah.

CB: All right. Say no more.

BF: We think Stone Giants are really cool. [Laughs]

CB: Yeah. Okay. Perfect! Perfect Answer! Great. [Laughs] But, yeah, the Troll Challenge what did ye think of that?

JD: Oh, the troll challenge was awesome! Thanks, everybody for doing that. You know, I don't know how I didn't realize you could build on the trolls.

CB: Yeah, I know, right?

JD: I was like, “Oh, yeah, I never thought to do that…”so that was fun. But yeah, huge thanks to everybody that submitted for that. And we're going to put together, probably on social media, a package of some of the best stuff. But, I think you guys probably saw the post of the ones that we were most excited about.

I don't know if Clare, you want to go through the names of the ones that were really awesome, but, in particular, I loved the videos. So keep the videos coming if you have the ability to do that. as we move into the next challenge.

CB: Yeah. All those the submissions were really cool. And, as FireManeDavy is mentioning in the chat, I did see your vase balancing troll after the dev submission date, but I still think it's, it's very cool and yeah like that, I don't know why I didn't think of putting stuff in like trolls hands, including Dwarves!

JD: Including Dwarves! Yeah, those ones were great. That, was that Skrom, that put them where, like, you're standing in the - or was that Guy I can't remember - but, my side award for, even though we were mostly about the trolls, JleJleka? Do we know how to say…?

CB: I'm not sure how to say that…

JD: Yeah. your dwarf was probably the best dressed Dwarf I've seen in any of the player screenshots. Like, very well coordinated tinting on the armor, plus the coloring on the hair. So I was very impressed by that Dwarf.

CB: And their base looked beautiful as well, where the troll was guarding. Ye-

JD: And into the next challenge. Oh, go ahead, Clare!

CB: Oh, I was just going to say the exact same thing. After this I'll be posting challenge number 2, which is going to be, a group shot.

JD: Yeah. A family portrait

CB: [Laughs] So, yeah, family portrait of Dwarves together. Whether it's like, eating a meal back at your base or your out adventuring, mining together, that sort of thing. But also for, solo players, because I know not everyone likes to play in a group, if you're being a bit more creative about what makes up your group, that's also allowed as well!

But yeah, really interested, to see because I know there's loads of pictures people have posted about, like especially defeating a certain boss. So like victory poses. So please be careful about spoilers as well! Please spoilers for those. But those images always look really, really epic, and it's great to kind of share that triumph with players through those images as well. So I’m really looking forward to that!

JD: And so one last thing we've got, you know, remember, if you are interested in the Steam version, go wishlist on Steam. If you've got friends - we've all got friends who are holding out for the Steam version, which is totally understandable - remind them to go wishlist on Steam and we are posting content over on the Steam community site as well.

It's stuff that is is a little bit more for people that are like deciding if they still want to play, whereas here we're kind of talking about new stuff for those of you who've been playing for a while, but there is content over there about how we went about trying to make an authentic Lord of the Rings experience, what the difference between Campaign and Sandbox is.

So there's content over on the steam page and we've got more blogs coming because we haven't talked about everything for the updates. So, we're looking forward to, in the next couple of weeks posting, not just big announcements about things like, the actual release date, but also talking about, gold plating. Anything you think you can gold plate, do you want a gold plate it? [CB laughs]

The remodeling of the desolation. Hidden tombs. Some other pretty neat stuff that's coming up that we can preview, coming up in the future. So, this was, it's funny, we meant for this Fall update to be a little bit more modest compared to the April update [CB laughs] because we're working on things like getting it out on steam and other things that are complicated that we'll talk about. But we kind of ended up not making it modest, there's a lot of stuff going in! [laughs]

CB: Woops!

JD: It’s going to be a pretty, pretty exciting Fall, so, yeah.

CB: Yeah, this is like, lots of really cool, exciting stuff to come. I think we're kind of out of time there, really. I know, there's, like, loads of questions that are still gone unanswered, but hopefully- we’ll obviously be able to do another one of these again soon.

And, I'll go back down through the chat and like pick up anything, as kind of feedback, that the players have been asking about as well to make sure that the team get that as well. So yeah, we’ll finish up there?

JD: Yeah. Thanks, everybody!

BF: Yeah. Thanks everyone for showing up!

CB: And we'll see ye again soon.

JD: Okay, Bye all!

CB: Bye!


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