by Leo “Ransroth” Zelevinsky
Hi all, Ransroth here. I’m a Game Systems Engineer working on LOTRO.
We are very excited to be adding the ability to cosmetically equip weapons with Update 16.2.
In the screenshot above, I’ve cosmetically equipped an axe, a mace, and a bow.
Cosmetically equipping weapons is a natural extension of the existing outfit system and we’ve wanted to do it for years. The cosmetic-only items (such as rolling pins and frying pans) you can get aren’t nearly as fun without the ability to use them cosmetically while equipping a real weapon.
I’ve been in a number of meetings over the years where we discussed how the system would function, and every time we would fail to come up with a clever solution that wasn’t a ridiculous amount of work.
Finally, a few months ago, the right people came together and our tech art wizard Evan figured out a way to rewrite our animation scripts such that your actually-equipped weapon would become invisible, while a different weapon would appear to be shown in your hand and use the regular animations.
I added the three new cosmetic outfit slots and then asked QA to try out all different combinations of cosmetically-equipped weapons with different actually-equipped weapons and see how badly broken our animations could get. At this stage, you could cosmetically equip any weapon, and it would be shown in place of the actually-equipped weapon.
We found that the major problem was the way in which the character holds the weapon. If the character’s actually-equipped weapon is a two-handed sword, then the character holds the weapon with both hands on the hilt. If they have a one-handed weapon cosmetically-equipped, this looks very silly. Similarly, a spear is held in both hands, and other one-handed (or two-handed for that matter) weapons look silly when you hold them like that.
The full set of rules that we came up with for what wouldn’t look too silly goes something like: If you have a one-handed-weapon other than a staff or a spear equipped, it looks OK when you have another one-handed-weapon other than a staff or a spear equipped. Two-handed clubs and swords are interchangeable. So are two-handed hammers and axes. Cosmetic-only items look OK as long as the equipped weapon is a one-handed weapon other than a staff or a spear.
This set of rules felt too confusing to implement for the first revision of the system, so what we settled on and what you’ll see in U16.2 is that cosmetically-equipped weapons only work if they are the same type as the actually-equipped weapon for that slot. If you don’t have a weapon equipped in that slot, or if the type is different, then you’ll see what you are really using.
In order to make this easier to understand and know what will be shown, we added the red eye indicator that you can see in the screenshot above. If it appears, that means that with the current set of equipment, the current cosmetically-equipped weapon for that slot will not be shown because of a type mismatch. A tooltip will explain a little more:
We wanted to come up with a more permissive set of rules for cosmetic-only items – so those will be shown whenever a one-handed weapon, other than a staff or a spear is equipped.
In the future, we intend to revisit the rules. We’ll be watching for all of your feedback so we can make improvements.
Weapon and shield appearances can now go into the wardrobe so you can save your favorites and use them for all the characters on your account.
Have fun clobbering shrews with shovels. Oh – and you can cosmetically equip shields too!