The State of LOTRO Plugins

June 23, 2011

General, Opinions

600px-Lua-logo-nolabel.svg_Back in September of 2010 I wrote an article about Lua scripting and how it came to exist in LOTRO.  Needless to say I was pretty excited.  I was a “WoW addon junkie” previously and I could barely contain my excitement that LOTRO, my game of choice, was on the road to getting the same functionality.  Myself and several other bloggers even started putting out videos centered around my experiences with different LOTRO plugins.  However, even though we still used plugins, we all eventually stopped putting together videos.  Why?  Well, I can’t speak for the others, but for me there were two reasons:

  1. I got a bit lazy.  It is some effort to put together these videos the way I’d like to.  It would be easy to cop out and not do any zooms, highlights, titles, etc.  However, I don’t like doing videos that way, so it ends up being a bit more work.
  2. The release of Lua API’s were flowing like molasses and eventually became non-existent.  In fact, as one LOTRO Addon Developer pointed out to me, “Turbine has pretty much abandoned the plugin community since the Nov 2010 update. If you were to search the official LOTRO forums it becomes evident of that.”

However, recently I have come back to the idea of doing more videos.  Why?  Well, for one I have to say that I am impressed by how vigilant the plugin authors have been considering what they have put together with how little they have to work with.  I think they deserve credit for their work and I would like to be one of the people that shows off the amazing things that they have put together.  Secondly, I still use plugins on all my characters.  I even have a set number of plugins that I consider “a must”.  If there is a plugin on LOTRO interface there is a 99.9% chance I have it downloaded and installed, even if I’m not using it.  So why wouldn’t I talk about something that I took the effort to try?  Lastly, we get a lot of questions concerning plugins from people who see our dungeon run videos.  So I think that there is an interest there, but due to the obscurity of plugins most people aren’t aware of what they are.  And while I think the majority of that lack-of-recognition goes on Turbine’s shoulders, I think that a large portion of it goes on myself as well for dropping the ball on promoting the plugins that are out there.  So I for one am going to try and get over my laziness and get back to video creation.

So during my new-found fervor  for creating plugin videos I wanted to check on the state of  my perceived notion that Turbine had all but abandoned plugins was accurate (at least from a public perception).  It was highly possible that I misunderstood or overlooked the release of Lua and that someone more knowledgeable about the subject could set me straight.  So I went and asked some of the Plugin Developers what their thoughts on the subject matter was.

First off, let me say the overall reaction was that the Plugin Developers who responded seem to love LOTRO and they have great hope for Lua within the game.  Of course they would have to in order to put in all this time creating something for LOTRO for free.  They also want Lua to push forward and they are feverish for any news on the subject.  But there was also an undertone of defeat in some of the posts that I read as well.  Dhor, author of plugins and utilities such as Travel Window and PagedSlots said,

My current feeling is that Turbine has dropped the ball on LUA plugin support. For the most part, things seemed to go quite well at the start, with good feedback from the devs about issues and such. Recently, it appears that they have all disappeared, with no feedback, and no changes in the last couple of updates.

Overall it makes me a bit sad.

And he’s certainly not alone in those feelings.  Digital_Utopia, author of plugins and utilities such as Palantir and LotRO Character Journal Gadget for Windows Sidebar had this to say,

How has it progressed? Like a one-legged dog in a tar pit. Since the initial release, it’s gotten very underwhelming updates, and of those – several of the changes seem more the result of an OCD complex than necessary ones. There have been a few bug fixes, and a couple of new data items available, but not nearly enough to be worth noting – especially considering it’s been a year.

Now, I’m willing to entertain the idea that RoI is taking up dev time, so I’m not quite ready to chalk it up to being yet another abandoned project. However, if we don’t get some nice new shinnies with RoI, I’ve got no choice but to assume that Turbine has abandoned it, thus abandoning it myself – until I’m shown otherwise

And these feelings extend into the UI community too.  Overall, both of these groups feel generally ignored if not completely abandoned and it’s a shame considering the overall work that they put into the game for no other reward than to have people see their creations and enjoy using them.  And it’s too bad, because whether or not Turbine understands it this is how some people play the game.  Their focus is adding functionality and style to a game which they adore and letting others enjoy those enhancements as well.  As Fortunis author of Mouse Cursor Highlighter Advanced said,

I’m not sure if they realize that a good majority of people get their enjoyment in making addons/plugins/UIs and it keeps them and the people that use the addons/plugins/UIs more excited about playing the game, even after a long period of playing it. New UIs come out, New gadgets, etc and it feels like a new game.

How can one argue against this?  There is undoubtedly quite a bit of value in user-created addons.  Certainly World of WarCraft sees their value, as does Vanguard, EverQuest, Everquest 2, and RIFT.  And I certainly don’t want to sound like I’m down on Turbine, because I’m not.  Like many of the authors and users of plugins, I’m just a bit sad and more than a little worried about the future of Lua and skinning in LOTRO.  It’s my hope that Turbine can renew their efforts and realize that while supporting Lua and the UI may be additional work, it’s worth it not only to see what players can do to enhance their game, but it allows players to enjoy the game in their own way.  Plus you never know, some of these enhancements might not only give Turbine some new ideas when it comes to the UI, but alleviate their load by being able to say if you don’t like the way that something looks or behaves in-game?   Well there’s a plugin for that.

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Avatar of Merric

About Merric

Co-founder of CSTM and an avid LOTRO fan.

View all posts by Merric

30 Responses to “The State of LOTRO Plugins”

  1. TheArcher777 Says:

    It is unfortunate that the Lua project seems to have been getting very little attention. I have scoured your plugin and UI articles because they looked so interesting and like something fun to try. However when I went to search for a new UI skin to try, nearly all of the most popular skins (and ones I liked most) had notes that said the developer would no longer be updating them because of issues with Turbine. So I have yet to try any type of plug in.

    But I do look forward to reviews on plugins! I have been eyeing the Palantir one after watching your videos, though lately I’ve been having a lot of hitching and lag issues so I’ve been reluctant to had extra things.

    Reply

    • Avatar of Merric
      Merric Says:

      Thank you! A word on the UI Skins. One of the things that is keeping them from updating is that they need a new art pack (usually with every update) in order to make sure that they correlate with all the new UI changes and interface updates. However, the developer that was working on this project has moved to another team. And no one on the team has taken up the duty to post a new art pack for the community. Sapience has said he would nudge them to do so, but there has been no update since then.

      Reply

    • C4G Says:

      I love the plugins that still work. I find it extremely disappointing that Turbine find their value so low on the totem poll….along with housing upgrades. Why Turbine! WHY!!!!

      Reply

  2. Atzumo Says:

    I only use the BuffBars and Songbook plugins, but I can see where you are going on the theme of customization and such, since I’ll have a bad time if, say, with RoI the plugins stopped working

    Reply

    • Avatar of Merric
      Merric Says:

      And that’s one of the issues that Lua developers are having. With the game updates some Lua aspects are being broken (take a look at the inventory plugins which have needed a Turbine fix for months now) and no fixes are being pushed. It’s really disheartening.

      Reply

  3. Avatar of Duncan
    Duncan Says:

    Thanks for all your efforts, and the Palantir video was excellent.

    You mentioned a ‘set number of plugins that I consider “a must”.’ What is your default list of plugins?

    Reply

    • Avatar of Merric
      Merric Says:

      You’re welcome! I think I’ll answer that with a new post on some of them, but my standards are:

      Palantir, Buffbars, SortPack, Tonicbars, and Altinventory. Then some characters have some specific ones that they use as well depending on their class.

      Reply

  4. Alevyr Says:

    I love palantir. I hope turbine really continues on with the project.
    Even if we just get to see automatic-plugin-loading on login.

    Reply

    • Avatar of Merric
      Merric Says:

      No kidding, right? How silly is it that they have to be loaded manually?

      Reply

      • Corvald Says:

        You can make loading a bit easier with a couple steps:
        1. Use Plugin Manager
        2. Alias the load command as follows: /alias ;man /plugins load manager
        3. Assign the ;man command to a quickslot: /alias shortcut ;man 1

        Now you can drag the (odd-looking) icon anywhere on your toolbar and just click it once when you login.

        Another suggestion for a plugin – Daily Tasks. If you ever do tasks, especially if it’s just on an alt, you can see what items can be redeemed for tasks, where, and for what reward. It even keeps track of all of your character’s levels so you can easily collect on one and redeem on another.

        Reply

        • Joe Says:

          You don’t have to make an alias, and it is much simpler not to:

          ‘/shortcut 21 /plugins load manager’

          Reply

  5. Isilwren Says:

    I remember when you came out with the first round of plugin videos. It got me excited for the hunter travel carousel, songbook, ui skins, etc.

    I still love the skins and will scower lotrointerface for new ones (though I have not see any lately). I have about five different ones I use on a regular basis. Songbook is a lifesaver and used regularily in LMB, along with Lyrical.

    I’m going to be venturing into the Warden Trainer Lite plugin here pretty soon; but I have to agree with you. The attention to plugins seems to have seriously waned since the spotlight was first shone on them.

    Reply

  6. Marac Says:

    Amen

    Reply

  7. Arieltalia Says:

    As someone who just recently discovered your plugins videos, this saddens me as well.

    Reply

  8. Xythlord Says:

    Keep on doing your plugin videos!!! I have to tell you that I just recently started using Palantir and Tonicbars. I gave Buffbars a try, but I am not currently using it as I am still trying to figure it out.

    Reply

  9. Merrydew Says:

    Thanks Merric!

    I can’t write Lua scripts myself and sometimes figuring out how to load one can be a challenge but your videos back in November helped me learn how to use them.

    If you could figure out Lotromaps by Digital_Utopia and explain how to get that to work in single syllables, I would hug you. http://www.lotrointerface.com/downloads/info406-LotroMaps.html

    Reply

  10. Lydia Says:

    I love Palantir and BuffBars, although the latter took several hours to figure out what all the settings were and how I wanted to set them.

    Reply

  11. Daevic Says:

    /signed!

    Reply

  12. Jason Says:

    The travel plugin is almost essential for a hunter, it frees up around a dozen hotbar slots. I’d like to see a similar one for mounts. I know you can just bring up the mounts panel in skills, but having them all show up as icons on a panel without havign to scroll would be nice.

    Reply

  13. Bootsy Says:

    I tend to load LUAs as I enter the game, it’s become routine.

    Palantir
    Buffbars
    Songbook
    Lyrical
    Horsey – Look this one up Jason, it does what you asked for.

    If I’m just going in game to RP I only load the last 3.

    I hope Turbine give LUAs some lovin’ soon

    Reply

  14. Sandriell Says:

    Sadly, this is typical Turbine. They add a half-complete feature with promises to expand on it later and then never touch it again.

    Reply

  15. Tony Says:

    Turbine really hasn’t done enough with this. The plugins so far have been great, but every other one seems to have something that the creator wanted to add but can’t because Turbine has been overly stingy with some basic things.

    I’ve been really disappointed by their involvement so far. It’s kind of like skins in the game — it’s an option, but Turbine barely talks about it and only a comparative handful of people have the patience to really make anything within their confines.

    I think if they did this right it could really expand the game. I’m not saying it needs to be as open as WOW’s API (and I know a lot of people would hate that), but it’s clear that add-ons have helped WOW strive. Turbine needs to open things up a bit more or, at the very least, take this more seriously than they have.

    I hate to be really cynical, but I’m sure this fell onto the back burner because absolutely nothing about it can be fit into their new F2P model to earn revenue.

    Reply

    • Tony Says:

      Not to mention what others have said — they change things every update and give LUA developers no way to fix it. Some of the best add-ons so far can’t even use some of the features now that they did months ago.

      Reply

  16. Garan Says:

    I don’t know if it was a direct result of your article, but we have had our first official communique reguarding Lua and skinning in a VERY long time from Turbine, posted by Narrel:
    http://forums.lotro.com/showthread.php?404390-LOTRO-UI-Customization-Heart-Monitoring

    The timing may just be coincidental, but either way, it is good to know that although Lua has taken a back seat for a long time, it still has proponents in Turbine.

    Reply

  17. grimbran Says:

    I always use palantir, buffbars, and travel. (with the plugin manager addon to load them more easily)

    I use travel regardless of character, in order to clear all the “return to” skills off my quickslot bars to free up space. This isn’t a hunter-only addon. :)

    I used to use songbook, but after the novelty-value of standing around playing preset music wore off, I don’t bother with it anymore.

    Reply

  18. Dirstel Says:

    If I don’t have TonicBars loaded I can’t play. I’ve also started using Palantir and BuffBars. TonicBars I’ve been using for longer, though, and it’s a must, especially on the higher level characters – otherwise I start to lose the screen in amongst all the buttons!

    Reply

  19. Celtar @ Nimrodel Says:

    I personally think that Turbine has decided that the hassle and security issues that Addons add to the mix are not worth the financial cost or developer time. Not the latest from Blizzard on the authenticator change to how and when it is used. Secure ID systems cost money to use, and Turbine allows third party plugins to work which players can download the increase in account hacking increases. So to counter that you have to pay out to have something like an authentication system.

    Reply

  20. Celtar @ Nimrodel Says:

    Correction “note” not “not” in the previous post. Also just a quick add on, pun intended. I am a fan of addons myself, would love to see the ability supported but I do worry about security issues.

    Reply

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