Thursday, May 8, 2008

UI tweaks

Lord of the Rings Online is running a free re-trial weekend this weekend to celebrate their first anniversary, in an attempt to lure back all the players, like myself, who quit due to lack of mid-high level content. The timing couldn't be worse for me personally - I defend my PhD dissertation tomorrow in that crazy off-line world - but I suppose you get what you pay for. The chances that I'll resubscribe to LOTRO are almost nil, but I'm definitely curious to see what they've done with the place.

I stuck my nose into the game for a few minutes during my lunch break to see how it looks. Interestingly, they've made a lot of tweaks to the user interface - it's easier to tell which of your traits are equipped, you can actually put kill deed progress in your quest tracker, the quest log is massively reorganized and easier to navigate, and they've got a system where, if you're turning in 36 stacks of reputation tokens, you can do this with a vendor-style interface instead of accepting and turning in a repeatable quest 36 times. None of these design improvements have anything to do with the content development people I generally talk about on this blog. But they're nice little touches, and anything to make some of the game's basic and necessary functions more accessible is a good thing.

On the downside, they've added an animation in which, when you go to summon your horse, your player whistles, looks around, and whistles some more for the horse to show up. This was already annoying the very first time I saw it, and LOTRO requires you to dismount a lot (e.g. to talk to anyone). /sigh.

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