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:
- 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.
- 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.