Over at the brand-new Kill Ten Rats forum, Ethic had this to say about the game, that ultimately sparked the debate about this strange turn of events.
I'm having a real love/hate relationship with this game. The other day I stoodAfter delving into the available information, this graphic is indicative of the trade skill, farming, and the workbenches used in the process have become hubs for max level characters (Turbine caps advancement at level 15 in pre-release) to grind out skill points and gold by processing the skill repeatedly.
on a dock, smoked a pipe and looked at a rainbow. There was even some morning
fog. It was very nice. Then later I was near the farmer fields and watched as 5
people stood around a workbench and appeared to be throwing seeds on the ground
and table. I'm sure they were doing something else, but the visuals ruined the
whole atmosphere for me.
From Tobold's LoTRO Journal back in February (emphasis added):
Playing a Farmer turned out to be more fun than I would have thought. IWithout knowing the details of the LoTRO economy, or the intricacies of this trade skill farming, I can not make an accurate assessment regarding the long-term impact that this mechanic will have on the game, but I can only imagine that over a month of max-level characters farming a steady steam of gold will severely impact the game economy and trivialize future gold sinks, such as Mounts or gear purchases.
spent quite a while growing pipe weed, and ended up making a good amount of
money in the process, after getting past the first stage. There are different
kinds of pipe weed, of different skill levels, from apprentice, over journeyman,
to expert and beyond. You can smoke pipe weed, which gives a fun animation and
smoke rings, but there is no in-game advantage to it. But you can sure sell the
pipe weed you grow.
It may amount to nothing, or Turbine may have overlooked a severe hazard in their clever pre-release scheme. Only time will tell.