As part of their E3 coverage, GameSpy chats with Vijay Lakshman, Vivendi's vice president for production of online games about their recently announced MMORPG based on Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Middle-Earth Online:

    "GameSpy: Talk about the combat system. Can players role-play their characters in a non-violent manner? Is combat essential to the progression of a character?

    Welcome to the Shire.Vijay Lakshman: In our design sessions we constantly challenged each other to think outside the box. Because of latency issues MMORPGs for the most part have pretty static combat models. Personally, I find that boring. We've come up with something that challenges the player by making them a strategic decision maker throughout the combat process. I think our system will allow players feel like they won a fight, not because the 'numbers' were on their side, but because they made the right tactical decisions using the skills and advantages their character has. After all, that's how fighters in the real world win, isn't it?

    In terms of combat being 'essential,' we established a clear design goal that there would be multiple ways for a player to advance. Crafters, traders, and other non-combat characters still needed a system whereby they could rise to be powerful and respected. I don't want to give away too many details, but it suffices to say that we will be supporting a robust model for both combat and non-combat advancement."