With the breaking news of Lua’s introduction into The Lord of the Rings Online, we wanted to give you a brief history of how this system came about, what state it is in, and where we want it to go.
To start, I will say that the primary driver behind introducing UI plugins is this: no single version of a UI element will ever be ideal for all players everywhere. What one player loves about part of the UI can send the player standing next to them reeling into a frothing rage of frustration. Knowing this, a small group of us got together last year and began investigating the possibility of adding a UI scripting system.
As several other games have used Lua successfully for UI scripting, we decided to look into it and were quickly able to get a prototype Lua UI scripting interface into our engine. Since then, we have gradually continued to develop the system alongside our other initiatives. Today, we are in the process of Beta testing the Lua UI scripting interface on our closed Beta preview servers.
Many of you have been asking what this means when it goes live. This system has been implemented to allow players to override existing elements in the graphical user interface. The functionality available in its current state is small in scope but introduces a lot of fun UI possibilities. Our Lua-based UI plugin system exposes functionality through chunks of functionality referred to as “APIs.” In its current state, we have implemented the following APIs:
• Basic UI element creation (such as windows, text boxes, buttons, etc.)
• Quickslot information (allowing for additional quickslot arrangements for skills, items, etc.)
• Inventory UI information
• Your character’s morale/power information as well as what effects you currently have on you
To clarify, our implementation of Lua scripting in our game is not a macro-able/BOT-able interface. The system does not allow automated input such as mouse-clicks or macroing, nor does it allow automatic skill execution. Any UIs created through Lua scripts will still require human interaction to use.
We intend to continue heavy Beta testing on the Lua UI scripting system on the private test servers. There are several internal hurdles that remain to be cleared before the initial launch of the system and it is not yet guaranteed that “Lua in LOTRO” will launch in the Volume 3 Book 2 (F2P launch) timeframe. Much like our initial launch of QuestGuide or DX10, we will likely launch the feature as a public “beta” stage/“work in progress” as we continue to solidify and expand the initial functionality.
As for our future plans for this, our intention is to continue to add more API functionality after the initial launch. For example, some of the popular requested APIs are: target, fellowship, and raid vitals, as well as vault functionality similar to the current API’s inventory functionality. The ultimate goal for this system is to allow players to legitimately customize their UI as a largely upgraded version of our current long-standing “UI skinning” tech. It’s all about the UI and letting players change it so the information we already expose in our current UI can be presented in different aesthetic fashions.
I hope this information clarifies what “Lua scripting” means for The Lord of the Rings Online. As we come closer to the actual launch, we will provide more information into the specifics of the system. We are very excited about this feature and look forward to the day when it goes live allowing players to have a much more customizable experience with our graphical interface.