LOTRO on the 360

Sunday, April 5, 2009

There has been a rumor floating about out there regarding LOTRO being released for the 360. No timeframe has been established and Turbine isn't talking. Previously it was intimated that LOTRO probably would not see a console release, but plans can change. Rather than harp anymore on unsubstantiated reports, I want to talk about what LOTRO might look like on the 360.

The first thing that happens is the need to redesign the UI. This game was developed for the PC with a keyboard and mouse in mind. In order for the game to be most effective on the console, a UI needs to be developed with a game controller in mind. That means the UI needs to be more sleek, more slim. Menus and information needs to be accessible without a lot of scrolling through options with the controller. There is a lot of information that needs to be conveyed so this is a particularly big challenge.

As an extension to the reimagining of the UI design, general controls need to be changed and/or simplified. For example, there's no need for a "walk" as a game mechanic so there's no need to map controls to such a function. It's a waste of valuable button space. The PC has an abundance of buttons so the "walk" function doesn't hinder gameplay. Movement should be fairly easy to accomplish since there are many, many third person avatar games out there. It's the use of skills that is the biggest problem. My skill bars use up 42 slots counting all my skills and the miscelaneous potions I put on them as well. Directly translating that to the 360 controls would be a nightmare. Memorizing 42 different button combinations to access the skills you want to use? I don't think so. Nor can you curtail the amount of skills within the game without greatly changing the gameplay - essentially you'd be designing a whole new game from the ground up since the LOTRO content is made and balanced for the skills that are in the game. To further complicate matters there are many classes with skill chains that require a quick response with a different skill in order to take full advantage of their potential.

If the design issues can be worked out, we're more than likely looking at a version on the 360 that significantly differs from the PC side in such a way that it could be argued gives one side or the other an advantage/disadvantage. Why I bring this up is because it's highly unlikely that a console version of the game would be playable on the same servers as the PC side. And without knowing anything about how XBox Live works behind the scenes, I'd venture to guess there are some hurdles in that regard as well. So, more than likely, we'll have a whole new set of servers just for the 360 LOTRO.

Honestly, I don't see LOTRO coming to the consoles. There's a lot of work - and by a lot I mean like designing a whole new MMO a lot. And that's the point. Why not just make a new MMO for the consoles if the end product of LOTRO for the 360 is virtually the same thing - except with the LOTRO skin? Based on previous announcements from Turbine, I think they are working on a console MMO but it's more than likely not LOTRO.

5 Responses to "LOTRO on the 360"

Thallian Says:

I bet they are looking closely at how phantasy star online and FF11 were created. Lots of lessons of what to do and not to do there.

manorton aka Paravel Says:

Great write up my friend. You also beat me to the punch :)

As I look at all the options and skills I have to control on my Rune Keeper one would make the logical conclusion that a console controller would be woefully inadequate. This is one of the same reasons Blizzard has said over and over that wow will not be on a console. It is to complicated control wise to boil down to a few buttons.

Turbine IS working on a project to bring an MMO to console, but it would have to have a different play style, and more than likely will be along the same lines as freerealms. This makes perfect since from a business standpoint.

Another key thing to note. The article that Massively sources was posted on April 1st, so take that as you will.

I will put more thoughts down on this, but really you covered it well.

Jaxom92 Says:

That's a good catch with the April 1st thing, although I don't think it was a joke post. Didn't seem absurd enough. Hehe. But, then again, who knows. I might have just fallen for an April fools joke for the first time since I was a kid. :)

Blue Kae Says:

Couldn't agree more about the design issues, especially using skills. My hunter has four full bars between ranged combat, melee combat, tracking, travel, and utility skills. While I could see how the UI could be redesigned to allow for console play and voice chat would be emphasized over text, there's no way the existing game could be played using a controller. Turbine would have to require people get a USB keyboard.

Jaxom92 Says:

The required keyboard use wasn't something I thought of until you mentioned it. That's certainly a feasible possibility, however, in my opinion, it's bad design. Like requiring someone to use a gamepad/controller for a PC game, requiring the use of a keyboard for a 360 game misses the key design feature of the system. You don't choose to design for the 360 and force a keyboard. More bluntly, it's bad design. I don't think they'll go that route either but at least it moves the idea beyond the realm of impossibility.