When he penned the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, J.R.R. Tolkien created a world so rich and textured that it's widely considered to be the origin of the fantasy genre as we know it. Subsequently his work directly inspired the creators of Dungeons & Dragons, whose legacy continues to be felt throughout the gaming industry today (including in Turbine's own Dungeons & Dragons Online).
Going back to the source and building a massively multiplayer online game based off of the literary works of Tolkien represented both a huge opportunity and a real challenge. Creatively, the world of Middle-earth is so detailed that any game taking place there has to live up to the highest of standards. Business-wise, the competition is brutal: the market is already flooded with other fantasy-based MMOs, one of which already has millions of subscribers.
Yet since its launch earlier this year, The Lord of the Rings Online has attracted a steady legion of satisfied fans, with solid gameplay and a terrific world to explore. LotRO, as it's affectionately known, is among GameSpy's nominees for their 2007 Game of the Year awards. GameSpy took the opportunity to corner Executive Producer Jeffrey Steefel over email to talk about where the game stands today and what's in store down the road.