Alright. So this is week 4 of Ambermist's challenges. This one is a tough one too. She basically asked us to go out, learn something and then make a post about it. Since I am really getting into Lord of the Rings Online now it makes sense to do some research of it. The drawback is.... I am just starting in Lord of the Rings Online which means lots and lots of things too research. Too much to research in a week or do a single post about it. So I am doing the obvious thing and just narrowing down it to one specific topic: Lua Plugins!
The following is the result of my research. If there is someone more knowledgeable who sees something incorrect, please post about it in the comments and I will fix it.
Lua Plugins? What is that?
If you ever played World of Warcraft you probably heard of AddOns. Might even have an avid user of them. Lua Plugins are the same thing except for Lord of the Rings Online.
If that is not your case, then let me explain what they are and what they can do. The LotRO UI is pretty good. It looks good, it isn't very hard to find the stuff you need and generally doesn't stay in the way of gameplay. But even then there may have times where we wished it would do something in a different way or that it could do something it doesn't do yet. That is where the Lua Plugins come in. They are a way for players to tinker (within certain restrictions) with the game's UI. And unlike skins, Lua Plugins aren't limited to just changing the aesthetics of the UI either. It can actually add new windows or change the behavior of existing UI elements.
Here are some more practical examples of what Lua Plugins can do:
- Open/Close your bags like it was just one big bag as well as having an auto-sort its contents.
- Add new hotbars for specific purposes.... like managing your collection of horses! 🙂
- Keep track of your daily tasks.
And much more.
What it does not do is automate any gameplay. Also, there is no risk of it being used for any malicious purpose. Turbine keeps a very strict control of the plugin's API (think of it as the plugin's commands). So there is no risk of it being used to steal your personal information.
Ok. Cool. But where do I get plugins and how do I install them?
The best place to get Lua Plugins right now is LotRO Interface. Just click on the download link on the top bar and then choose one of the subsections to find the plugin you need. As for installing there are two ways. One is an automated way through the LOTRO Plugin Compedium. That is probably the easiest way as it can download the plugins directly from LotRO Interface and add it with a single click. The other is to do all of it manually. I will just send you to LOtRO wiki as they have excellent instructions on how to do it. You can find it here.
If you have any troubles, check the troubleshooting page at the LotRO wiki. You can find it here.
To uninstall the process is similar. Just mark the plugin you want to uninstall in the LotRO Plugin Compedium and click on the remove button. If you decide to do it manually just delete the plugin from your plugins folder.
I want to make my own plugins. How do I do that?
This is a topic that is far too broad to put into a single post. Another problem is I don't have any first hand experience making one. The best I can do then is trying to point you in the right direction.
If you have absolutely no experience with any programing language before, you will have to learn the basic concepts of programming before you start. I googled around a little trying to find a good Lua tutorial for beginners. Turns out it was harder than I thought and I admit I didn't look as far as I probably should. The best I could come up in a short amount of time was this introductional material at Sanity Phailed.me
For the more specific Plug In part, there is this thread at the official forums, called Writing LotRO Plugins for Noobs. Despite the name it does assuming a certain familiarity with programming.
The LotRO interface is pretty good as is. But each person has their own needs and no matter how good the default UI is, it won't fulfill completely the needs of each person. With the Lua Plugins players can change the UI to fit their needs, letting them focus more on playing than on struggling with the interface.