LoTRO 360

The Lord of the Rings Online for the Xbox 360 rumor has been making the rounds again.  The first one I saw was from Destructoid.  It was posted on April 1st, so I immediately assumed it was a joke, but if you check the comment thread Brad does say on the following day that it’s not an April Fool’s joke.  Tony at MMeOw picked it up as did Massively both of which source the Destructoid post.  Massively also references Joystiq who references Destructoid as well and followed up with Turbine PR:

“We’re not talking about what we’re working on specifically, only that we’re making a console MMO and actively working with Microsoft and Sony.”

Turbine has admitted working on a console MMO apparently planned for both the Xbox 360 and the PS3, but it’s much more likely to be a new design rather than a port of the existing game.  Jaxom92 makes several good points, but the biggest one is the controller/keyboard problem.  With the exception of Final Fantasy XI, all MMO’s have been designed around mouse and keyboard.  To go to a controller, the game would have to be drastically changed.  Either the game would have to be simplified or the pacing would have to be changed.  The alternative of course is to require players to get a USB keyboard to plug in or provide a peripheral, after all everyone was willing to buy a plastic guitar.  Even then you have an ergonomic issue.  When I play my 360, I play on the couch.  I’m not going to spend hours on the couch with a keyboard in my lap and a mouse on the armrest.

6 Comments

  1. YeeboNo Gravatar says:

    Both EQOA and FFXI have shown that an MMO is perfectly feasible on consoles. I know it sounds impossible if you haven’t tried it, but 90% of what you do in an MMO works just fine with a gamepad. Shoulder button to tab through targets, or hold down another button to directly select targets using crosshairs and you are golden. In EQOA you had access to ten ability hotkeys in combat as fast as you could ever want to get to them, no KB needed. Think about your MMO of choice. How often do you use more than a core of roughly 5 or 6 abilities in combat? Even for pet users, “pet attack, and then other stuff” is pretty normal. I can list on one hand the characters I have across all the MMOs I’ve played that need more that ten hot bars in a typical fight (most get by on three or four in an average fight).

    You do still need a KB to chat. However, in any solo friendly MMO you need a KB and mouse far less often than you would think.

  2. BrianNo Gravatar says:

    I forgot about EQOA actually. How do the ability hotkeys work via a controller? Is it combination of the D-pad and the colored buttons?

    As far as the number of abilities I use in combat, here’s a normal scenario for my Hunter:
    * Setup: Snare, Focus
    * Pull/Ranged: Swift Bow, Penetrating Shot, Barbed Arrow, Penetrating Shot, Quick Shot
    * Melee: Blindside, Penetrating Shot, Swift Stroke, Penetrating Shot

    So that’s 8 unique skills. Add in Agile Rejoinder if I get a parry. So that’s 9 skills that I use for over 70% of fights. With a combination of the D-pad and the 4 colored buttons, it is doable, and with practice acceptable. My initial reaction was on Mass Effect and Fable 2, both of which had pretty poor controls for quickly selecting abilities.

    As far as chat, I’m assuming that any console-based MMO would be primarily voice, since that’s built-in to Xbox360 service.

  3. YeeboNo Gravatar says:

    There was a menu that you scrolled through by pushing up and down on the directional pad. Pushing left or right would switch between the same spot on a parallel menu (if that makes any sense). Square (if I remember right) would activate the ability you had highlighted, you would navigate to the next ability and cue it up while the current one was firing off.

    It likely sounds hectic, but it became second nature after a short while. When you started off, generally you would only have one or two abilities, giving you plenty of time to get proficient as the skills you had grew. It was also important to have abilities that followed each other “nearby’ on the hotbar menus.

    The parallel menus was really the key that made it all work. In any given spot you were one move away from three different abilities, two moves to just about anything.

    There was also a separate menu system for accessing your full set of abilities that you opened using the triangle button. Think some sort of menu driven analogue of the “circle within an circle system” from Secret of Mana (the SNES game) and you won’t be too far off.

    EQOA was (is I guess, it still has something like 20K subs) a game that had a lot of good ideas buried in a grindy fugly MMO. I’ve been meaning to write a post about it. It was ahead of it’s time in some ways, but sadly behind the curve in others.

  4. BrianNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t like the idea of scrolling through menus, I always seem to scroll one past whatever I want to do. It may be something I could adjust to, but I would much prefer a chording type mechanic where each direction on the D-pad would give you four options that you could select with the action buttons. Something were I could let my muscle memory take over so I could focus on the action going on and not hunting for the next ability I want to use.

  5. YeeboNo Gravatar says:

    It wasn’t a “scroll” in the sense of hold the pad up or down like you typically see in console games. One click was “one hop.” It was more like moving around cells in a spread sheet with the arrow keys. As long as you could remember how many hops each ability was, it worked extremely well. At least as well as mouse clicking abilities in my experience.

    That said, I think both of the systems that you suggest are good ideas. I especially like the first one. Maybe hold down a shoulder button to turn the face buttons and the direction pads into 8 hotkeys. You could potentially have multiples of 8 slotted by having each bumper open a different hot menu.

    There was also a RPG game for the N64 (one of the very few) that had an interesting system. The four directions of the directional pad corresponded to the four classical elements. Each of those branched out in three more directions. With the different combinations you had very quick access to 16 different spells (once you learned them all). The game it was imbedded in bit horribly, but I have often wondered why I haven’t seen that system elsewhere.

    I’m going to be very interested in seeing what developers do with the console MMOs we have coming down the pipe this year. Supposedly Champions Online is coming to the 360, as well as several SOE games on the PS3. AoC, Huxley, and LotRO are all also rumored for the 360. I’m honestly not holding my breath for any of them, as much as I’d love to play LoTRO on my couch.

  6. BrianNo Gravatar says:

    Your couch comment brings up a different type of issue for me, but its with console gaming in general. If I’m playing Xbox, then my wife is either asleep or busy doing something else, otherwise we’re sharing the TV. PC gaming I can do at any time since I’m not monopolizing the living room.