Time for the September's Q&A and as I promised you, I got your questions and answered every single one of them, for you. So let's get started!
Q: Who will we play as in the mod?
A: You will be able to play as a Dunedain, a Gondorian, a Rohirrim, a Man of Eriador, a Man of Rhovanion, a Dwarf, a Nandor elf, a Sindar elf, a Beorning and of course as a Hobbit. However, if you choose to start the main questline you will play only as Mr./Miss Baggins, a Hobbit from the Shire.
Q: How will you handle population? One thing I don't like about vanilla oblivion is that you see a huge town but when you walk inside there are like 15 citizens. Will it be the same or have you boosted population a bit so cities might actually feel big?
A: Towns and cities will surely feel bigger and alive. Let's talk with numbers! Bree, for example, has 55 buildings, out of which, around 45 are houses that people live in. Now, each one of these houses has at least 1 person living in it. Do the math and and i think you'll understand what i'm talking about.
Q: How large will the moria mines be?
A: One word: HUGE! So big and so deep at the same time.
Q: Will you have lots of hidden places throughout the world that might contain valuable treasures as well?
A: Yes. Many weapons, armours and general gear will be scattered across Middle-Earth. From regular swords and armour to gear from the Second Age or even from the First Age!
Q: How will magic be handled?
A: Magic will be very subtle in MERP. In general magic in Middle-Earth was used to protect, preserve and heal, and only by elves. The Dunedain had some healing skills, too. However, we might add a thing or two, for gameplay's sake. But nothing that has to do with thunders, blizzards and big fire balls. Apart from spells, you'll also find "magic" items like swords which cast fear upon evil forces or do more damage to them.
Q: Can i play a magic based character?
A: If you mean characters like Gandalf, no. However, as an Elf or a Dunedain you will have protection, healing and other kinds of subtle magic.
Q: How will balance be handled? Will difficulty depend on the race? For example, wizard=easy, human=normal, hobbit=extreme?
A: First of all, there will be no wizard to play as. Secondly, the difficulty won't entirely depend on your race. Every race will have its strengths and weaknesses. For example, if a route is guarded by enemy forces, an elf or human can just break their way through sucrificing arrows and sword condition, a Beorning can transform into a bear and scare the enemies causing them to flee with the cost of something else like fatigue maybe, while a Hobbit can use its stealth to slip behind them at no cost.
Q: How will combat be? Would look stupid at least to have an orc taking like 10 arrows to the chest like in vanilla oblivion.
A: Combat will be much more realistic. Not only because it looks so... unrealistic in vanilla Oblivion, but also because, many times, you'll have to deal with many opponents at the same time.
Q: When you start the game, will you have every city and village marked on your map?
A: No, you won't have every settlement marked on your map. If you choose to be a Hobbit, for example, in the beginning you will have only a part of the Shire marked. Or as a man of Eriador, you will have towns like Bree, Archet, Combe marked. Same for the other races. However, we might decide to give the player only the map of their hometown and its suroundings. He can then purchase maps of other regions if he needs them.
Q: When you travel around middle-earth, will you sometimes run into traveling groups of enemies or allies?
A: Yes you will. Bands of orcs, bands of Uruk-Hai, caravans, Wargs, groups of Ithilien Rangers etc.
Q: Will there be a fast travel system in MERP? If so, how will it work?
A: No there won't be any. If we decide to include it, we'll have it as a seperate downloadable plug-in. The travel system we are planning to have in-game will include caravans. Meaning that the player will be able to travel fast from a big town to another by caravans that go to the desired destination. But Middle-Earth is all about exploring, right?
Q: Will there be mounted combat?
A: Yes there will be mounted combat.
Q: Why do the character models look like the movie stars? Please don't tell me you basing this off of the Peter Jackson films.
A: Actually the movie versions are pretty good. What's wrong with them? And since we don't have any other references, there is no other option. Anyway, we haven't got to that part, yet. We'll see in the future.
Q: Will there be different starting areas? I hope so because its strange when for example both hobbit and men would start in the same area/dungeon.
A: Of course there will be! Each race starts in its area. Hobbits in the Shire, Men of Eriador in Bree or some other town like Archet, and so on.
Q: Are the distances "realistic"? i know you cannot make a huge huge world map of course but i wouldnt like it if i would get from edoras to minas tirith within one in-game day on horseback.
A: The worldmap can't get any bigger. Plus, Middle-Earth, as Tolkien created it, is huge! So there is no way we can have real distances. However, yes, you will feel like you are traveling for hours in-game. And don't forget that you won't travel unnoticed. There will be creatures, men, orcs that will either ask for your help or hunt you down. So they'll slow you down a bit.
Q: How many quests have you planned to put into the mod?
A: I cannot say and i bet no one can, yet. We already have many quest ideas and some of them are already finished in terms of dialogue and plot. But these are nothing compared to the number of quests we'll have when MERP is finished.
Q: Will there be one or two people in every village who need help or just some in larger cities?
A: No, there will be many more.
Q: Do you change the leveling system from vanilla oblivion into something else? I personally never liked vanilla oblivion's level system.
A: Yes, everything will be far more realistic. Attributes will increase naturally as you improve your skills, there will be no micromanaging etc etc. I promise you that you'll have and a much better leveling experience!
Q: How important will your level be? If you're level 2, will you be able to kill a goblin, for example?
A: First of all, i want to point out that the beast's, and all creatures' in general, level won't depend on the player's level. Meaning that even if you are level 2, you could still find a powerful troll somewhere in the wilderness. Now, the level will depend entirely on your skills, attributes and experience. It will grow as they grow. That said, normally you wouldn't be able to kill a cave troll on your own. So you won't be able to do so in MERP either.
Q: Will there be beasts walking around freely in some areas like in WoW-type games?
A: Of course! Peaceful animals, wild animals, all kinds of trolls and many more creatures not shown in the films. There will also be bands of orcs, Uruk-Hai, men, Dunedain, dwarves, elves etc patrolling their regions.
Q: If we get a megaüber level will we always be inferior to people like Sauron, Gandalf etc (I assume they will be in the game)?
A: Gandalf and Sauron are Maiars. But let's not go over history. It's simple. Think of Elrond, for a moment. You can say he is in a megauber level, as you call it, and he is also an elf, right? Now, do you think he could withstand the power of Sauron? That explains everything, i believe.
Q: Will there be big battles?
A: Bigger than vanilla Oblivion, that's for sure.
Q: What the team's position on the "Nameless Things" is? As I know, there is some controversy in the LOTR community. Will they be featured in the game/mod?
A: Yes they will be! We imagine them, not as one kind but as many kinds of creatures, and all of them together are the Nameless things, as named by Gandalf. They will have different forms. Really dangerous and strong they will be, and they can only be found in the deepest and darkest places of Moria. In the roots of the mountains.