Monday, 3 August 2015

Thoughts on LOTRO's server closures

1 Chestnut Street, Ravenmere, Bree-land Homesteads, Gilrain: my home for seven years. But not for much longer.

Today is a day of mixed feelings. As I'm writing, the Lord of the Rings Online servers are down to prepare for the upcoming server changes. While the LOTRO community has been buzzing with the news of the impending server closures since the start of the year, it still took me by surprise when they announced today's start off just a week ago. The actual character transfers will be starting in a few weeks, but the means will be implemented today and, more important to many players, we got to hear which servers will close down. I was not surprised to find my own server, Gilrain, on the list.

Surviving servers

Belegaer (DE) (RP) Arkenstone
Gwaíhir (DE) Crickhollow
Sirannon (FR) Landroval (RE)
Laurelin (RP) Gladden
Evernight Brandywine

* RP stands for official role-play server, RE for a "role-play encouraged" server; only the first has strict naming rules.
Source: World closure announcement in Developer Diary, (3 August 2015)

News of the server closures has unanimously been received positively by the community. Unlike other MMOs (Star Wars: The Old Republic comes to mind), LOTRO hasn't shut down any of its servers since it launched in 2007. In those eight years, the population has decreased so much that most servers feel like a ghost town. When I login to my small European server Gilrain, seeing another player is so rare that I've started greeting them (as if it really were a small town) or, if I'm in a less cheerful mood, catching myself red-handed at thinking "hey, what's that player doing in my single-player MMO?!".

Nevertheless, a small part of me is feeling sad because (as I had foreseen) my own server Gilrain, since forever one of the smallest LOTRO servers, will be closed. I believe it is the right thing to do, don't get me wrong, but today preludes the conclusion of the time I played with that small community I once was so attached to.

Facts & fears

10 Servers will stay open - which I guess sounds better than "19 will close", although that is equally true. The 5 EU ones include 1 French, 1 German, 1 English, 1 German RP and 1 English RP server. For a European English-speaking player such as myself, this leaves the choice between Laurelin and Evernight, which gets me to the next point: Server transfers are 'voluntary' and you can pick the server you want to transfer to yourself. I'm the only one that I know of that isn't enthusiastic about this. I love freedom, it's not that, but I'm worried that the friends I have made over the years in LOTRO will disperse themselves over different servers. My history on Gilrain is eight years old and in those eight years I've come to know many people in different kinships. Luckily there are only two English-speaking EU servers available, so the chance of losing people to other servers is only 50%. Cross-pond server transfers (still) won't be possible. Sad news for the people who want this, but their reason that doing this would cause major issues with their old, outdated servers sounds sincere. Finally, the EU servers are moving back to the EU, which is nice because less lag, yay! Not that I'm having any trouble with that, having a fast connection and not doing any group content, but still. It was weird to move the servers to America in the first place, if you ask me.

It's a small place, but it's my place. It's also a place with a creepy Orthanc orb
- for purely academical purposes, of course.


Then, naming policies. I was happy to discover that the developers have put some thought into this. They know that players value their character's names and they know that a lot of characters that haven't been played for years are holding potential double names occupied. So they came up with the following solution:
"With the new transfer process, when you transfer your character to a new world, the world will check to see if there is a naming conflict. If there is, it will grant the name to the incoming character if the character existing on the world has not been active for one year or more. The less active character will have a -1 added to their name and a rename token granted to the character. (Rename tokens have no expiration date.) This should prevent the majority of unnecessary renames for those transferring from the impacted worlds."
Source: World Transfers, in Developer Diary,

It still means that transferring characters (such as myself) have the disadvantage when it comes to keeping character names, but at least only active players can steal our names, and since there are not so many these days, the chance of that happening is relatively small. I do hope I at least get to keep Ravanel, though. While I know it's silly for a game, I'll truly be heartbroken if I can't.


More problematic: kinship transfers (for non LOTRO-readers: a kinship is the same as a guild in other MMOs). While I find the solution to add members to the new kinship as soon as their leader has transferred elegant, nothing is said about possible name conflicts:
"When transferring a character who is a Kinship leader, the game will disband the kinship on the home world and reform it on the new world complete with all historical data. Players who were in that same kin will be instantly added to the kin on the new world if they decide to follow the Kin leader. Kin leaders, please coordinate with your Kinship members ahead of time, add target world to your MOTD, etc so that your members know where to follow. Bound items in the Kinship house will be returned to their owners and unbound items will be put in the Kinleader’s personal house storage or escrow. Any remaining pre-paid credit and unlocked storage levels on the Kinship house will be automatically granted upon purchase of a new Kinship house on the new world."
Source: World Transfers, in Developer Diary,

My guess is that kinship name conflicts will be resolved the old fashioned way, e.g. if the name already exists on the destination server, you'll have to come up with a new kinship name. This is bad news for my own kinship, Asylum, which I know is a popular kinship name on many servers. Then again, rarely any of the Asylum members still plays LOTRO, as testified by its astonishing number of 4 level 100 members (of which 2 are Conrad and I). Nevertheless, I would hate to transfer to another server than my fellow Asylum-members, just in the off-chance that we'll do some nostalgia runs at some point.

As a fashionista, the main use of my house was its collection of dyes - all my friends had a key.


Finally, for housing transferring players will get to keep their furniture but have to purchase new houses. Although I'm somewhat attached to my Ravenmere neighbourhood (the easiest to remember, too, starting with Rav), I can see myself living in another. Contrary to SWTOR, I never got into housing in LOTRO that much, because it is fairly limited. Still, I'm happy I get to keep my furniture, as some are trophies with fond memories of heroic victories attached to them.

Final thoughts

Right now, I'm strangely enough slightly excited with these changes. I guess it's been a long time since something happened in LOTRO. I'm hoping that most of my friends, even if they're not actively playing right now, will pick the same server. Out of the choices given (Evernight or Laurelin) I'm personally leaning towards Laurelin because it is known for its friendly community, just like Gilrain once was. Then again, Evernight, not being "role-play", is the more default option that others might want to go for. 

It's hard to predict what the community on destination servers will become like. I expect Evernight becoming larger than Laurelin, but I don't know by what magnitude. If it becomes a mega server then I'm less enthusiastic about it, but if Laurelin will stay as small as Gilrain used to be that's not great either. Whatever it becomes, I'm lucky that my server will get to transfer as the second of all EU servers, so I'll have an near-optimal chance to keep my name and house.

What are your hopes and fears regarding LOTRO's server transfers? Will you be moving servers? And if so: whereto?


  1. I'm excited about the merges and starting anew. I didn't expect my home server to be the very last to get a choice of where to transfer, which may mean they get no choice at all. That's pretty sad.
    I guess I'll play my Gladden characters and have a new beginning there.

    1. Sorry you'll have to wait until the end. On a positive note, they will probably have worked out all possible bugs by then.

      As far as I'm aware, you'll always be able to choose to what server you're going (as long as it's not cross-pond). You are even able to change your mind and transfer to another server again, it says here: "Transfers to or between the worlds that will be kept will be free until October 1st. After that point all transfers off of closed worlds will continue to be free indefinitely. But transfers between the live worlds will go back to paid."

  2. They are not merging. They have said this over and over again. They are closing servers and allowing free transfers from closed ones to available servers. Please get it right

  3. I'm sorry to hear that your server is one of the ones affected. I can recommend Laurelin, it does have a nice community - I don't role play but all that's really required is that you have a lore-fitting name and that you don't interfere with any RP that you might come across. Some of the RP & events can be quite fun and it does make the world feel a bit more alive (I'm sure you know this, but I thought I'd state it for any other readers :))

    Hope it all works out for you x

    1. I didn't know you were playing on Laurelin, nice. :)

      I have never played on a role-player server, but I kinda like the idea. I always make up backgrounds for my characters and take care to use names and outfits that make sense. So even if I'm not a role-player myself, I like the idea of being in a world where others also appreciate that kind of immersion.

      Ultimately, my choice will depend on what my friends decide upon as well. Reactions in my old kinship have been indifferent so far; they don't seem to care since they're not actively playing at the moment. I tried to fuel the discussion nevertheless, because I'd hate us to end up on different servers.

  4. Yeah, the mini-Reds were upset when their favorite server was on the list. I believe they're determined to follow the band that plays at Bree on Fridays to wherever they decide to go, but they'd prefer to stay in their current server.

    As for me, I kind of knew Windfola would be on the list. It just figured.

    1. Aww, that's so cute. They're real groupies! I hope they'll be able to follow them. A server with weekly concerts is pretty cool in my book.

  5. Question is for me what happens when the whole lot to EU population cramps up in one or two servers that are non german/french, I see only one problem and that's exactly it

  6. Laurelin is my main server (I have alts on Landroval, which was thankfully spared, and on Imladris, my first server, which is getting the axe). I only log in once in a while for screenshotting and roleplaying these days, but should you decide to pop over, perhaps we'll run into each other!

    And I didn't notice the line about the EU servers moving back to the EU. Bad news for Asian players like myself, but it's all good for me since none of the activities LoTRO has left for me require a low ping.

  7. Great post Rav, and I know how you feel, with Riddermark closing and all. I'm both anxious and excited - this is a huge operation for Lotro and no one can say for sure if it's going to be smooth or a disaster. We'll see.

    Just wanted to also drop a note: I absolutely love your blog. Everything from design to content. Ravalation must be one of the best looking gaming blogs I've seen! So happy I discovered you through Noctua. Yay for lotro bloggers.

    1. With you there, hoping everything goes well. Exciting times surely are ahead.

      And thank you so much for the kind words - they mean a lot!


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