Arbitrary gear checks to be lifted from LOTRO bosses
Huzzah! You no longer have to re-enact Frodo's sissiest moments from the movies/books in Lord of the Rings Online! Executive producer Kate Paiz revealed in her December Producer's Letter that the devs are finally giving players what they have been crying for: a fighting chance, by removing the Radiance-Gloom mechanic from the game.
Radiance is a player armor stat that serves no other purpose than to gate content for players in LOTRO. Every boss in the game has a Gloom rating, and if you get near the boss without an equivalent or higher amount of Radiance to combat the boss's Gloom, your character will become useless and cower in fear. Much like Frodo, players can do nothing but watch their fellowship members get smashed one-by-one by the boss while cowering in fear.
Since it was introduced to the game in late 2008 with the Mines of Moria expansion, Radiance has been universally criticized by players. Most argued that artificial gating is a frustrating way to restrict progression, because Radiance doesn't help players do more damage, doesn't increase the amount of damage they can absorb, and doesn't increase the utility of their character. Instead, it's simply a binary "are you allowed to be here or are you not?" switch used to keep players from accessing content until they reach a developer-chosen threshold. Under-geared couldn't “tag along” with higher-level friends when fighting a boss, contributing as much as they were able too. Instead, they were quickly sent packing, crying in fear.
Paiz doesn't go into full details in the letter, but does state that the game will be completely Radiance-free when the change is complete. This isn't just future content either; the devs will be retroactively removing it from the current content as well. She doesn't mention a specific date for the change, but she mentions that it'll be in Q1. The sooner the better--it'd be very smart of Turbine to take out this confusing and annoying game mechanic before the main wave of free-to-play players that are currently leveling through Middle Earth reach the endgame and get frustrated by it.
The Producer's letter also discusses some of Turbine's future plans for the game (some of which were already implemented in this week's patch), which include removing the price tags to the Moria and Mirkwood Epic Quests (the story backbone of the game) and the Lone-Lands zone, so free-to-play'ers can enjoy them as well. Also on the map for next year: a revamp to the Legendary Weapons system, new non-combat pets, and an expansion to the Monster Play system.
You can read the full Producer's letter here.