LOTRO Beta Bank Blues

I have pretty modest expectations for the coming transition of Lord of the Rings Online to a Free to Play financial model, which is scheduled to happen on September 10th.  Subscriptions will be out… sort of… there will be that whole VIP Level of commitment… and the LOTRO Store will be in.

And since my expectations are modest, I haven’t really felt the need to join in the beta just to check out the store.

Last week, however, they were going to do a stress test and wanted to get as many people online as possible.  I decided to finally grab the beta client to help out with that.

And since I was going to be there anyway, I though it might be time to check and see if my expectations had been met.

There were three specific things that I hoped I would be able to purchase with Turbine points, of which I should have many come September 10th.  Those things were:

  • Increase bag slot space
  • Increase bank slot space
  • Housing

That is it.  Anything else which shows up that I like will be a bonus.

And it looks like I am not getting two out of the three on that list.

Bags will remain capped at the five 15 slot bags which I have currently, or so it seems when looking through the store.

And while I can buy decorations for a house in Middle-earth, the actual house stills has to be paid for and maintained with in-game currency.  Gold in the game isn’t as rare as it was back at launch, but I still don’t have enough hanging around to invest in housing.  The homestead will have to wait.

Ah well, at least I have more bank slots for which to look forward.

Sort of.

I have a problem with that too.  It isn’t that I cannot get enough additional bank slots.  It looks like I can get plenty.  It is how they will be displayed.

Currently in LOTRO, your bank looks like this:

It looks like a pretty traditional bank storage system in an MMO, akin to what you get with WoW or EQII.  You get a series of spots into which you may place your items for storage.

As you can see here, the default is 30 slots, and you can pay to unlock additional slots (which both cost in-game currency and have a level restriction) which come in the form of 15 slots boxes.  In the picture above, I have unlocked two additional boxes, giving me a total of 60 bank slots, although those 30 additional slots appear as individual windows apart from the base 30.

You can also see the care I put into organizing my bank slots.  There is quite a bit of crafting material shown in that screen shot.  It belongs to Silinus, my hunter, who is also a weapon smith and woodworker.  All his crafting materials are sorted by rows to show the tier to which the material belongs, and by column to distinguish the type of material.

I have some excess materials (still sorted by tier) on the left column, while the top row holds recipes I cannot yet train.

So I have a system, and it works well enough with the bank slots as they are presented in LOTRO.

The one very valid complaint I have heard about the bag and bank slots is that it can be hard for people to distinguish between items because of the tiny and less than optimally designed icons. (I’ve complained about the iconography in the game before.)  The second column from the right, for example, holds ingots of dwarf iron, rich iron, and barrow iron, but the only way I know which is which is because of their position.

So there is a mixture of good and bad there.

In the beta, the bank view has been changed.  This is the bank for the same character, with the same items, after having been copied over to the Bullroarer server.

If you bought the Adventurer’s Pack that they were offering along with Siege of Mirkwood, this view will look familiar as it is the same as the shared storage vault that came with the pack.

It is a change and it has a couple of things going for it.

You can see how many bank slots you have and how many you have used right there at the top of the window.

And, of course, each item now shows both its name and its icon, so you can see what you have… sort of.

The problem is that the window can only stretch so large.  With the shared storage, which is only 20 slots, that is no big deal.  You can make the window big enough to see everything.

But at 60 slots the window would have to stretch beyond the dimensions of my monitor.  And for the full 120 slots, which I plan to purchase, the window would have to extend to the floor in my office to see all my stuff.

Also, while you can choose a couple of filters for what is shown, it still lists stuff out in an order that isn’t very helpful.  You can see four types of resin listed in that window, but I couldn’t tell you off hand, without mousing over them to get the description, which on was for which tier.

That is why I lay everything out in an orderly fashion, so I can tell at a glance which is which.

I won’t have that option soon.

So this looks like a mixed blessing.  I will be able to get a lot of new storage space with my Turbine Points, but the actual usability of those spaces will be compromised by the new view.

14 thoughts on “LOTRO Beta Bank Blues

  1. Bhagpuss

    That new bank display is horrible.

    I completely agree that the icons are both too small and badly designed. I did eventually get used to them but they are really ugly, gritty, grainy, dark little buggers. They run WAR close for the nastiest iconography in a major MMO award.

    DDO also has deeply unattractive inventory icons, so perhaps it’s a Turbine thing.

    I like to have complete control over my inventory management and I like large, well-illustrated icons. I like to be able to see at a glance what I have without needing labels or mouseover descriptions. Some MMOs seem to be able to do it without any fuss while others make it into a huge issue.

    Surely it can’t be that hard to have an artist produce attractive, easy-to-understand illustrations for each item? Just look at a 1950s catalog and see the quality of commercial illustration there, then emulate it.


  2. Thomas

    Yeah that new view is terrible! I didn’t check my bank in the beta at all. Even years ago the first question a new player would ask is where to get bigger bags. They tended to be unhappy with the answer most of the time.


  3. Brian 'Psychochild' Green

    Gah. I agree, that new bank interface blows. I have all my stuff carefully organized, too, and having it all one bit mash will make the OCD inventory sorting part of me cry. :(

    One good thing is I had planned to keep subscribing, and with my stipend I was gonna by the shared storage I missed out on before.

    As for bag size, I actually kind of prefer the LotRO system. I actually really hated the bag upgrade rat race in WoW. Two of my friends were tailors, and they were each making their own bags before I got even a whiff of an upgrade. Keep in mind that as a Feral Druid I often had a bag full of a second set of equipment, so I was hungry for any space upgrade I could get.

    In LotRO, however, I know how much bag space I have. If I want to carry something new, I know I have to clear out some old bag space. No hunting around for a good deal on bags in the AH, or having to do the upgrade game again if I want to work up an alt.

    Of course, with the item store transition, new players will not have their full five bags. So, I guess newbies will have an opportunity to get more bag space! This means that existing players will miss the bag space on new characters, though….


  4. mbp

    You can buy extra “shared bank slots”but it doesn’t really solve the problem. Lotro’s developers put way too many pieces of collectable junk into the game what with crafting items, rep rewards , various tokens, legendary item stuff and so on.

    I started playing again a few days ago and faced with a situation where I am solo grinding though middle levels while my kinmates are all at the level-cap I realised that I would be very happy if the item shop allowed you to buy advancement. I know that is taboo among many mmorpg players so its not going to happen but it is not a competitive game so I can’t really see the problem.


  5. Ysharros

    Not a big fan here either. :(

    Oh but wait! There’s a search box! Provided you know the name of the tier ++ item you’re looking for…

    Me, I’m visual. I know what I put where and that’s where it should be. If I wanted a card index I’d have made my own.


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  7. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    LOTRO seems to be in a constant battle with itself over inventory and storage.

    Going into LOTRO and finding that, rather than the usual “one small bag, go find more” routine, I had five 15 slot bags was quite the reason to cheer.

    But back at launch, every boar haunch and wolf pelt you needed for a quest took up an slot in your bags. The first half dozen quests in the Lone Lands would fill your bags in a flash.

    And, as always seems to be the case, things stacked in ridiculously small piles.

    Bigger bags became a burning issue.

    So Turbine changed things so that most quest drops do not sit in your inventory. And they also increased the amount of items that could go in a stack.

    Then they started dropping tokens for festivals and tokens for skirmishes. And then there was the appearance slots on your character. I like the way that EQII does appearance slots, where you equip the actual item in that tab and it stays with you, rather than having to keep it in your likely to be already crowded bank.

    Now we’re going to get… well, not more bank slots, but easier to obtain bank slots, but it comes in a the form of a giant bucket.

    Still, the shared bank storage that came with the Adventurer’s Pack, those quickly became an important part of my storage and distribution system. I just with I could invest in a kinship-wide storage system, a guild bank, with my Turbine points.


  8. PeterD

    Well, I guess I’m going to be the odd man out here and disagree on the bank. I like the new one better. The icons in LoTRO are absolutely horrible, and I can never tell what anything is just by looking at the icon (ok, that’s an ingot. What kind? Which sword is that? Oh, it’s that one, that’s not the one I want, where’s my good one got too?)

    The fact that the new bank lists the names of the damned items makes it worlds better than the old one. You don’t need to carefully sort all your items so that you know what they are if you can just read the names. I’ll admit my first impression on seeing the layout was “gah”, but it was followed quickly by “omg, I can see what the items are!” Not having to squint and mouse over stuipd icons (I have above average vision btw, 20/15 or whatever the nomenclature is so it’s not my eyes!) or play an inventory oganizational minigame to figure out what something is makes it a winner for me.

    Also, I don’t quite understand the complaint about all the bank slots not fitting on the screen. Is scrolling really that hard?


  9. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    PeterD – “Is scrolling really that hard?”

    That is one of those deliberately misleading questions. Of course, scrolling is easy.

    However, if I want to pull out all of the tier 4 crafting ingredients out of my no-doubt close to full 120 slot bank, and they don’t all happen to sort together alphabetically, which they don’t, and if I haven’t memorize all the names, which I haven’t, then scrolling back and forth looking for them when I can only see about 20% of my items at any single point actually becomes a royal pain in the ass.

    I know this is going to be an annoyance, because this is the way inventory management works in EVE Online. It is going to lead to “I can’t find an item” or “crap, I didn’t realize I already have a pile of those.”


  10. p@tsh@t

    Erf. That’s not progress. At least in Eve you have several alternative presentations. Seriously, if they’re replicating the oh so horrid list, at least let us turn off the icons and sort by alpha, item type or class, etc.

    Its still an annoyance that the vendor lists are ineffectively sorted by alpha, e.g., Cut of Beef under “C”, Shank of Beef under “S”, bucket of water under “B”, handful of fertilizer under “H”….

    Does the filter give any useful classifications for selection?


  11. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    Sorting allows the option of A to Z or Z to A.

    Filtering allows you to show only certain items based on some oddly specific categories. For example I can filter to show:

    Craft: Component
    Craft: Ingredient
    Craft: Resource

    I am sure you know exactly which crafting items fall into each of those self-apparent categories.

    But I cannot filter and show all craft related items.

    I can filter to show crafting recipes for a given tier. If I could filter by tier for crafting supplies, my ire would be mollified, but that does not seem to be an option.

    The “chest” drop down seems to refer to the original layout of the vault, listing out the main area plus chests 1 through 10, so perhaps they plan to support the classic view. But at this point, that drop down seems less than useful.


  12. Vatec

    Fairly easy solution. Put all Tier 1 materials in Chest 1, all Tier 2 materials in Chest 2, etc. If you’re looking for the Tier 2 resin, you click Chest 2 in the Chest section, then type “resin” in the Search box. There’s a bit of a learning curve, especially for those who are very spatially oriented, but the new vault has several advantages over the old one: the virtual chests can contain any number of items (up to your vault limit) rather than a fixed 15 slots; the new vault loads considerably faster than the old one; the Filter and Chest systems are very powerful once you learn how they work; the new vault can be expanded far more easily than the old one (according to the developer who has been fine-tuning the system throughout Beta); and the new system ameliorates the incredibly weak icons.

    Of course, the Sort function is pretty much useless due to LotRO’s idiotic naming conventions (if you’re looking for “milk,” you need to go to the letter “B” because it’s actually a “Bottle of Milk”). Not being able to arrange spatially will definitely be missed by a lot of players. And Not being able to see all the contents simultaneously is annoying.

    But it’s still way better than the clunky, slow, and hideous vault system it’s replacing.


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