Iconic Distraction

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:


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.

28 thoughts on “Iconic Distraction

  1. syncaine

    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.


  2. Khan

    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.


  3. Jason

    “…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)


  4. Morane

    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


  5. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    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.


  6. Pingback: Channel Massive » Blog Archive » Channel Massive’s Electric Eye

  7. Hudson

    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


  8. Blue Kae

    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.


  9. Stefson


    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!


  10. mbp

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

    Excellent Post!


  11. TheRemedy

    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?


  12. Stropp

    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.


  13. Mallika

    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.


  14. Pingback: Give us a laugh « Nerf the Cat

  15. Pingback: Two Funny Posts « Bio Break

  16. Andrew

    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.


  17. moxie

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

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


  18. Scott

    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.


  19. Pingback: LOTRO vs WAR II « Jon’s Gaming Blog

  20. Ysharros

    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. ;)


  21. Pingback: LOTRO Icons, MST3K-Style « Bio Break

Comments are closed.