Rock, Paper, Shotgun has a nice interview up with Turbine producer Jeffrey Steefel, mostly centered on the Lord of the Rings Online forthcoming Mines of Moria expansion — also discussed are things like how Steefel perceives LOTRO's performance, expansion features, and issues of designing for a license. While WoW is wide open, not being tied to anything but itself, LOTRO has slightly more constraints in what can — or should — be done. Steefel doesn't see this as a problem, however:
It’s actually more of an opportunity than a problem. It’s rarely a problem. I’ve been a sort of creative person for a long time – in this business and then before that as a performer. And you always need some kind of boundary. Start with a blank canvas and say that you’re going to make stuff up in this big empty vac cum… it’s actually really hard to do. It’s good to have boundaries. The beauty of Tolkein is that he’s created these exquisitely detailed boundaries that have so much depth and richness inside them, and yet still have all kinds of things which are open for interpretation. I mean, we built Angmar basically from scratch, to our liking, based on very few clues… and yet it still feels as if it belongs in Middle Earth. There’s certain things – I can’t have flying cars or motorcycles or things like that. But I can have other things which are very exciting and it means, by definition, the world has a consistency, where it feels right. It all fits together. There’s not things which just don’t make sense.
Interesting interview with some great little tidbits, especially if you're interested in LOTRO specifically. Jeffrey Steefel on LOTRO: Mines of Moria [Rock, Paper, Shotgun]