Sunday, 13 November 2011

It's The Little Things... : LotRO

I dropped by Middle Earth last night. I have a new 24" monitor and several other improvements to my PC so I was doing the rounds to see how all the MMOs I know look with most of the sparkles on.

I've always been partial to the look of LotRO. The aesthetic is clear and consistent. The towns look and feel like towns. The countryside has a placeness about it. The scenery goes from cosy farmland to spectacular wilderness without any jarring transitions at the borders. And great as Turbine's take on Middle Earth looks in game it looks even better in screenshots.

And that's one of the better ones
I reckon it's probably safe to say that whoever did the worldmaking didn't have much to do with the log-in screens. The trip from desktop to gameworld is one of the ugliest I've ever taken. Garish, messy, muddled and loud, it's like someone shouting in your eyes.

Maybe the same team that thought those screens made for a good introduction to the game also worked on the UI, because that's dreadful too. Oh, it functions well enough and after a while you get used to its many idiosyncrasies. No, it's what it looks like that's so hard to take.

I'll have two from the top please Carol...
As I was saying, I have a new monitor. It seems pretty big to me. Perhaps naively I thought that might make it easier to see what I'm looking at. Well, not in my packs it doesn't. The icons in there make postage stamps look like bedsheets. Stuffed with tiny little green, orange and blue squares my bags look like Mondrian's coloring-in book.



Of course, it's not just the inventory that looks like it was designed for pixies. All the hotbars use the same system. And in LotRO I need a lot of hotbars because there seem to be about a million spells, skills, attacks and what-have-you. It might not matter so much if the UI was scaleable. It would still be as nasty as a troll's armpit but at least I could see what I had without squinting. I believe there is now some arcane out-of-game means of skinning the UI, but is it really too much to ask just to be able to grab the corner of a frame and pull?

One I summoned! Just one!

Indeed each time I log in all I end up doing is riding around admiring the view because whenever I think of doing something practical I open my bags or glance at my hotbars and lose the will to go on. I made it as far as the bank in Bree last night and that's an experience I won't be repeating in a hurry!

So, I'd quite like to play LotRO again. I enjoyed a lot about it while I was there the last time and I know there's plenty more to see. I'd just made it to that snowy part when I stopped playing regularly and I love snow zones. I'm just not sure I love them enough to learn to deal with that UI a second time.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, there is a UI scale option at the bottom of the UI settings list.

    At least on my monitor, that blurs everything a bit though, so it might make everything even worse. Then again, a scale of 1.0 works on my screen, so maybe it will be better on one where that scale doesn't work well?

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