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Iconic Distraction January 29, 2009

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Lord of the Rings Online, MMO Design.
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As I said previously, Lord of the Rings Online sure is nice.  Nice.

Turbine has used its time well and has smoothed down many of the rough spots that bothered me in the early days of the game.  Of the five things I was complaining about back in May 2007, a couple have been addressed, the combat mechanics one being the key item for me.

Still, all is not perfection.  There are still things that get in the way of me immersing myself in the game.

One of those things is the icon art.

People have been complaining about the icons from day one, and with good reason; the icons in LOTRO just are not up to the standards of the industry.

But even beyond their inadequate size and indistinct appearance, there is the whole matter of the messages they convey.

With each of my characters, there are icons that I find distracting from the game, but my champion has far and away the most.  Here is the quick bar for my Champion:

champicons

And here is what goes through my mind almost every time I look at some of these icons:

1 – Pull lever to dispense product
2 – Shout like Kenneth Branagh in Henry V
4 – Keep arm straight on back swing when teeing off
5 – Shout like Mel Gibson in Braveheart
6 – Start “None shall pass” black knight routine from Holy Grail (or the “Go cut the rabbit’s head off” scene)
7 – Stand back, let others fight
8 – Deploy Tesla Coil
9 – Use cleaver… but I don’t HAVE a cleaver
0 – Build fence and/or OCD weapon arranging
- – That scene from Flashdance
C+1 – How Moe Howard cuts his hair
C+2Britney gets pissed
C+3 – Drop weapons on the ground
C+4 – Admire Sir Robin’s shield really close up
C+5 – Impale with comically over-sized sword
C+6 – Punch Amy Tan

Seriously, while I sort of know what most of these buttons do, I have to look at the tool tip to remind myself of the specifics of each of them.

And while I will be the first to admit that my brain is… well… perhaps wired a little bit different… I do not have this problem in World of Warcraft or EverQuest II or even Warhammer Online.

So Turbine, if you’re listening, have somebody redo some of those icons with your next expansion.  You’re redone the inventory icons twice now, lets show those skill icons some love.  No matter how much I want to shout like Kenneth Branagh or punch Amy Tan, it is really distracting when I want to mentally be in Middle-earth.

Comments»

1. bluelinebasher - January 29, 2009

PATFTW! Love it!

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2. syncaine - January 29, 2009

See, now you have to do an icon review for all the other classes as well. Great stuff, and a good point considering everything else in LotRO is gorgeous.

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3. Khan - January 29, 2009

LOL! While much of the game has improved (I’m finally leveling up some lowbie alts), I agree the UI remains one of LotRO’s weak spots. I use Arena UI (www.lotrointerface.com) and use Ctrl\ to move elements around to my liking. The pictures for the icons don’t change though.

And some are too similar. I will occasionally confuse the icons for Distract (a death-like guy on a bright-yellow background) and Enrage (a bug-eyed guy on a bright-yellow background). While if I stop and think about it, I know which one does what, in the heat of the moment I have accidentally clicked Enrage (which is a stealth-breaking attack and probably one of the dumber things a burglar can hit out of stealth) and Distract (which will merely stop them and get them to look the other way without breaking stealth).

If they can change the icons for the different types of wood every couple of patches, giving those icons a change would be worthwhile as well.

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4. Jason - January 29, 2009

“…now you have to do an icon review for all the other classes as well.”

Agreed! Those descriptions are spot on and hilarious ta boot.

Jason (resident drunken idiot of Channel Massive)

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5. Morane - January 29, 2009

Actually I do have similar problems in Warcraft. Many of my icons have absolutely no relation to the function they perform and several just look like modern art. I even have two icons on my action bar that are identical (Bloodlust and one of my trinkets).

Plus I have several alts and different abilities on different characters share the same icon.

PS I may be obliged to steal this post idea

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6. Wilhelm2451 - January 29, 2009

I have that problem as well Morane, not knowing exactly what something does by the icon at times. Heck, in EQ2 I have a couple of cases where different skills on the same character have the same icon.

But none of those icons has ever suggested to that I ought to punch any Asian female authors, much less work on my back swing.

And it is only “borrowing” if you link back to you inspiration.

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7. Channel Massive » Blog Archive » Channel Massive’s Electric Eye - January 29, 2009

[...] to have quite a few listeners who play Lord of the Rings Online, I’d thought I’d share this hilarious take on some of it’s lame icon art from The Ancient Gaming [...]

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8. Hudson - January 29, 2009

The crappy interface, combat lag and lame icons are the 3 things that really turn me off on this game.

By the way this post had me guffawing at work. Nice

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9. Jim - January 29, 2009

Yes! Take THAT, Amy Tan…

Great (and hilarious) post, I totally agree.

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10. Blue Kae - January 29, 2009

Wow. I’m not sure I’ll be able to play my Champion alt anymore without laughing now. I do agree that both the Champion and the Guardian icons are hard for me to keep straight, but they’re both alts. I’ve never had a problem keeping my hunter icons straight, but honestly I have actions mentally linked to keys so I don’t pay attention to them anymore.

Thanks for the laugh though, it’s been a rough work day so far.

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11. Stefson - January 29, 2009

Hehe

I’m sitting in programming class right now (VBA) and this is funny. My classmate right next to me has no idea why i’m laughing. Poor guy, I’d better help him out with some code.

Excellent stuff!

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12. mbp - January 29, 2009

Damn you Wilhelm. I will never be able to use Second Wind again without breaking into that silly Flash dance song.

Excellent Post!

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13. TheRemedy - January 29, 2009

I know in WoW when there’s a spell icon I don’t like I just make a macro of the same spell with another icon, is this a possibility in Lotro?

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14. Syp - January 29, 2009

I am AMUSED.

Success, sir!

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15. Stropp - January 29, 2009

Fortunately there were other people at work laughing about something else when I read this or I would have looked really silly. Errr, more silly.

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16. arbitrary - January 30, 2009

I laughed so hard, now I might need to do the same for my capt :-)

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17. Mallika - January 30, 2009

That was hilarious. Pissed-off Britney had me snorting with laughter. :)

I don’t really like the UI either. I use JappMe Ivy interface (from lotrointerface.com), which helps a lot, but of course you still kind of have the whole icon issue. And yeah, I agree that a lot of them are just … meh. I don’t really look at them, though, as like Blue Kae I remember the hotkey to press, not the icon.

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18. smakendahed - January 30, 2009

- looks more like “Ah crap, not going to make the bathroom, take a dump here!”

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19. Khan - January 30, 2009

@mbp

He’s a maaaaaniac MAAAANIAAAC, that’s for sure!

Bu wu ha ha ha! :)

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20. Give us a laugh « Nerf the Cat - January 30, 2009

[...] The Ancient Gaming Noob has had me laughing this morning with his deconstruction of  champion icons in LotRO. If I were feeling witty, I’d do one for my captain and her icons, but I’ve [...]

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21. Two Funny Posts « Bio Break - January 30, 2009

[...] Iconic Distraction @ The Ancient Gaming Noob [...]

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22. Andrew - January 30, 2009

I think the icons may be what actually turned me off from the game. I played for maybe 45 minutes, and I just couldn’t get around the clunky, ugly, rough UI.

Great post.

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23. moxie - January 30, 2009

bwahahahahaha, I just spewed cola all over my computer screen.

I think I might have to go play my Champion now.

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24. Scott - January 30, 2009

Even so, the current icons are better than the ones at launch! Whew… those were far worse.

You should do a post on DDO’s icons though… hands-down the fugliest I’ve ever seen.

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25. LOTRO vs WAR II « Jon’s Gaming Blog - January 30, 2009

[...] the battle of the alternative (read: not wow) MMO’s by a point. The Ancient Gaming noob posted a great description of icons in LOTRO and I have to say that I completely agree- it’s a big detraction. Where the WAR user interface is [...]

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26. Ysharros - January 31, 2009

Hee! I remember those godawful icons, and I’m amazed they’re still as godawful 2+ years down the line.

As others have said, you MUST do the other classes, please! Pretty please! I can’t wait to revisit my Minstrel ones through your lens. ;)

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27. LOTRO Icons, MST3K-Style « Bio Break - March 3, 2010

[...] 3, 2010 by Syp A year ago, The Ancient Gaming Noob posted what I considered to be one of the most spot-on satires of LOTRO, namely pegging fun at their goofy-as-all-get-out icon art.  Don’t get me wrong, I love [...]

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28. Wilhelm2451 - March 3, 2010

Punching Amy Tan never ended up being the internet meme I hoped it would be.

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