The new character panel is designed such that the stat column on the right visually leads the eye directly to the Enhance Character button. Clever. If you don’t know what enhance character means, it’s a euphemism for Buy Higher Stats. Meanwhile, the new panel breaks my custom interface, if not most or all full custom interface mods for LotRO. Why? It’s a crusade for more store buttons. First the vault panels, then the crafting panels, now the character panel–all re-designed to add more store buttons, and Turbine is shutting modders out in the cold with a kick to the gut, refusing to let us touch these BUY buttons.
We can’t touch any of the panel art since the F2P release because we haven’t received an update, despite many calls for Turbine to release the needed information.
Did I make a mistake thinking that LotRO was something better and nobler than just another commercial exploitation of Tolkien’s IP? Well. Yes. We all want that immersion in a world away from the real one and its ugly aspects. F2P has brought us to this–the LotRO UI taken over by the interest of selling things, ironically the metaphors of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth made manifest.
Some players in the forums are arguing that this doesn’t affect immersion. I argue that it affects game-playing immersion–that is, there is a reality of sitting down and entering a game world, a real-life happy place, that is different and even more important than the immersion offered by the fiction and lore of the game world itself.