Lord of the Rings Online is generally a mainstay MMO with most features from the core pool of primal MMO goo. However, it gets massive negative points for the User Interface (UI) implementation, but not for the obvious. The issues with minimalist UI modifications are minor. Turbine allows players to move UI elements around the screen, resize a few of them, recolor a few of them, and even gives a preschool level amount of control in the creation of new UIs. Don’t expect anywhere near the amount of customization found in World of Warcraft of Warhammer Online.
I can live with this. My favorite MMO, Guild Wars, has even less options (although better resizability) than Lord of the Rings Online. The problem is when developers start creating insta-death boss puzzles that hide in the UI.
I know there was one in the Helegrod with the spider boss, but my first time I got hit with the whack-a-mole UI crap was with the Mordrambor fight in Book 15. Basically he curses the player with a debuff, which can only be seen in a 100 pixel box below your character (or the buggy NPC text). The player has to run in front of an NPC to get the debuff removed before insta-death occurs. This is while adds are attacking on all sides and the main tank is trying to keep Mordrambor occupied.
I know in World of Warcraft, the UI customization is good enough that someone could create a, gosh, 1000-pixel warning symbol alerting the distressed players to improve the players’ responses. Turbine goes the opposite wayI when players are given the only option for the buff/debuff icon bar they have: “show only removable debuffs.” Guess what the developers like to use in boss fights? (hint: they aren’t removable)
Yet, Turbine seems to rely on the horrible UI in regards to a lot of difficulty with poisons, wounds, diseases, and fear debuffs. Players are watching the on-screen enemy cues, their cooldowns, their skill queue, their health, their fellowship, any monster adds, any AoE effects, and on top of that players need to watch out for pixel art notifications showing that a wound just caused the player to lose 25% armor or is taking 10% morale away each pulse.
In the only 6-man dungeon in Siege of Mirkwood, the first boss utilizes this tactic again. The boss calls out a player, the player gets the pixel art icon of death, and Eru forbid that players miss the line of text or small unremovable debuff while watching the AoE fire of doom. If the developers wanted to create instances where players watch a space that is less than 1% of their monitors, they’ve succeeded.
There are many that argue that the customizability of World of Warcraft goes to far. Healing, tanking, and boss dancing all become “too easy” when an add-on plays for you. I can see the logic in this, and I don’t think that developers like Turbine or ArenaNet are in the wrong when it comes to limiting UI customization. However, when the developers ramp up difficulty by abusing the limited UI and guessing that a missed pixel art icon will make the encounter more difficult for many players, I feel they have also gone too far.
go the distance