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News & Features Discussion  » World of Warcraft: Editorial: Customization

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Novice Member

Joined: 1/07/04
Posts: 2425

OP  11/08/06 10:47:59 AM#1

Garrett Fuller is back with a new World of Warcraft Editorial. This vet player and Staff Writer for has a lot of opinions on the most popular MMORPG of all time. This week he hones in on Character Customization.

On the verge of the Burning Crusade expansion I wanted to ask the question to Warcraft players how you view your character. In playing many MMOs we all stick by our avatar very closely going through the trials of leveling up to the end game. Since Warcraft has been at its end game for over a year (being out two years) now many players constantly look for ways to tweak their character out and make them better. In this aspect Blizzard has given us a loot based system. The classes and races themselves are balanced to some degree (I know Will of the Forsaken tips the scales a bit). It is in the loot that players win and use that really makes the difference. The other way to boost your character is by gaining faction with various races or creatures in the world and using that faction to buy more loot. With another ten levels being added to the game, is there a chance we'll be able to customize out characters without having to grind raid dungeons or PvP instances to get the boost we need?

The whole editorial is here.

Dana Massey
Formerly of
Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios


Novice Member

Joined: 11/21/04
Posts: 150

11/08/06 11:05:39 AM#2

Lol, what customization?  As far as I'm concerned the only thing they're adding to make it any more personal is two new races, and I'll be damned if anyone goes as far as starting over from level 1 just to look different from other people.

WoW is upsetting in many respects, and this is just one of them that I don't see getting any better with BC.


Novice Member

Joined: 1/15/06
Posts: 30

11/08/06 11:37:05 AM#3

Agree, and Agree

Might be nice to look a little different than everyone else out there.  WAR supposedly is allowing you to hang skulls from your armor.  Even if it is a the same armor everyone else has, that little tweek can mean a lot to a player.

And yes I hate raiding as well.  As much trouble and guild drama I went through to get the Tier 1 stuff, there is no way I was going to completely ignore RL again to get another purple.  Do I get destroyed in PvP?  Sometimes.  WoW loves Raiders.  Because they never cancel their account hehe.

I quit WoW for just that reason.  I'll resub for BC because I heard it is possible through PvP to get raid quality gear without the 80 hour a week BG grind.  We'll see. 

It's a good game.  Great mechanics.  Few Bugs.  Easy to play.  Now if they can listen to the rest of us besides the raiding-every-night-forum-trolls, it'll be even better.

Favorite mmorpg's:


Novice Member

Joined: 1/10/06
Posts: 26

11/08/06 11:46:44 AM#4


            The extent to which WOW takes gear is way over the top, i dont mind raiding, i dont mind PVPing, i like them both, heck i like WOW as a game .It was, at one time, a very fun MMO. With that being said i think people are getting fed up with the neverending gear grind. Honestly if raiders werent allowed to bring thier tier 2-3 epics into the BGs, no one would ever have complained about raid gear. I in no way think this is the players fault, they worked hard for those epics and they have the right to wear them wherever they choose. But its Blizzards mechanic that is to blame.

            WOW did alot of good things for the MMO buisness overall, it attracted ALOT more people to MMOS which will, in the long run, benefit us die hard MMO fans by allowing companies to invest more time into a game and make it better and more polished on release, in other words, investors wont be breathing down the necks of game companies now that they have seen how much $$ WOW has brought in, well not breathing down their necks as much heh.

            I honestly believe WOW is turning the corner, in the near future there are several promising games coming out, Im not saying WOW will lose all of its playerbase by any means, in fact i think it will still continue to be #1 for quite some time. Personally i think its time for me to move on, i had a great time with it, but like Mr. Fuller pointed out the purple neverending gear grind is just gettin old and so is WOW.

            I look forward to what these new games will bring, Vanguard, LOTR, Warhammer, Spellborn all seem to be very interesting games, im sure they will have raiding wether it be PVP or PVE, but it will be a different atmosphere and hopefully they will see the mistakes that WOW has made with thier snowballing gear effect, because gamers are evolving, and its time for these games to evolve with us.


Novice Member

Joined: 12/12/05
Posts: 48

11/08/06 11:49:02 AM#5

Well... i think the talents are pretty well done for a MMO, and if you like to you will always be able to play a "different" character - theres always some "best" build, no matter how complex your system may be...

But as for the looks - yes, i agree... its not fun looking like evry other orc schaman (yes, me too).



Advanced Member

Joined: 3/14/05
Posts: 148

11/08/06 11:58:34 AM#6

I can honestly say I don’t think WoW was ever made to be the eye candy game. What it was made to be was a game with very low poly counts so it could run on the worst machines, and also be able to handle multiple people on the same screen without messing up.

I think if you consider the original plans for WoW included player built cities similar to WC3 cities, and also raid based PvP it is not hard to figure out why WoW has limited themselves in customization for better performance and more action on the screen at the same time.


Novice Member

Joined: 8/08/04
Posts: 176

When you do something right, no one will have known that you''ve done anything at all.

11/08/06 12:15:17 PM#7
Gonna disagree with you here, Guler. Their low system specs have nothing to do with their lack of different models. We're not asking for more detailed armors or weapons, just different variations. Also, their limited facial/body features during creation are surprising. You can't even control weight/height.

I wish that WoW had created more specialized gear for raids with slight bonuses as opposed to huge bonuses that completely tip the scales. I wouldn't mind if Tier 3 weapons armor had higher damage or armor values, that's expected. But the bonuses we see make it end all be all gear. Since all you have to do is raid your heart out, you become a god in the game with just minimal skill over your opposition.

If the bonuses were specialized to the class or certain talents/spells, then you'd have to become a better player while also gathering better loot, because if you didn't know how to take advantage of the spells or talents affected then you'd never get the most out of your gear.

Of course, this is just how I feel. A game that caters to casual players shouldn't all of a sudden force you into hardcore raiding to keep up.

  User Deleted
11/08/06 12:48:10 PM#8

If you look at the batch of current next gen MMO's other than WoW and the ones in development you will see a similar trait in all of them, a diverse and extremly in-depth customisation of your character from creation to your first stumbling steps into their gaming world.

Customisation to alot of players is extremly important, take Everquest 2 for example, they had pre-order disks before the game went live so that you could create and play around with the very same character creation system you would eventually use in the real game.

WoW reminds me of the vast amount of korean games we see filling the MMORPG games list, they all offer one or 2 different character choices and very few other options to make your beloved character appear any different from the thousands of other players you spend your gaming time with.

I used to play a Druid in WoW and in any raid you would be hard pressed to be able to pick me out of a crowd of other druids as we all looked exactly the same with our tier1 armour, in fact it was ridiculous how alike we all looked and quite sad for a game that has so many paying subscribers.

I've since quit WoW in frustration at the many failings in the game and one of them is the lack of variety in how my character is seen in the game world.




Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/02/05
Posts: 1667

11/08/06 1:06:09 PM#9

I am all for more game systems (in this game and any game) where it's not all about the loot. There are many other things that can be emphasized.

But I disagree with some of the factual premises in this article, to the point I wonder if we are playing the same game?

I routinely defeat player opponents wearing much better gear than I. Gear makes things easier but it is no substitute for competence.

I also see entire raids full of people in awesome gear wipe, and just as often raids with lesser equipped players succeed. Tactics, teamwork and leadership are just as important as what you are wearing.

Then there are the talent trees and the choices you make on what to equip, or what pets or attacks or combinatons of those to use, and a million other things. There are lots of choices.

So while I applaud wanting to see less importance given to loot and more emphasis to other things, I disagree that what you wear is all there is to WoW.

EQ1, EQ2, SWG, SWTOR, GW, GW2 CoH, CoV, FFXI, WoW, CO, War,TSW and a slew of free trials and beta tests


Advanced Member

Joined: 5/28/06
Posts: 1687

11/08/06 1:31:14 PM#10
Exactly, what customization? They could improve this in more ways than one, by FAR...

1) Appearance of Characters (hair,face etc)
2) Armors
3) Skills...

The list can go on, but in their FAQ they recetly updated, they said there was no plans to add to or improve the customization of characters, which I find very very lame.

Novice Member

Joined: 8/08/06
Posts: 93

All Light Ends in DarKness

11/08/06 1:47:01 PM#11
I totally agree with this editorial. playing an mmorpg to me is all about customization and looking cool. sometimes in WoW when i find two pieces of gear that are similar, i may take the one that's a little bit weaker just because it matches the rest of my armor and looks good. when you get to the end game you look cool, but you look common!

One Human Tanking Warrior w/ Tier3 Epics is exactly the same as another Human Tanking Warrior w/ Tier 3 Epics.
Skillwise and gearwise

I'd like to see a new system that's not about the gear, or at least not ALL about the gear. I'd love for WoW to add more armor sets for each tier.

This is the reason i'll be quitting WoW when Vanguard: Saga of Heroes comes out =)

Currently Playing: Tabula Rasa

Gaming History: EQ, EQ2, SWG, EVE, Anarchy Online, CoX, GW, SRO, Rakion, Ryzom, WoW, Rappelz, Shadowbane, 9Dragons, DAoC, Dungeon Runners, DnD Online, Space Cowboy, LotRO, Vanguard, Fury, Hellgate
Wanting to Play: WAR, TCoS, Darkfall, Aion


Novice Member

Joined: 9/27/06
Posts: 36

11/08/06 1:50:28 PM#12
Just to add my two cents, I'm in agreement with the customization and the game balance toward gear.

When UO first came out, everyone was dying everything they could get away with. DAoC followed suit but it seemd to have gotten lost along the way. Since WoW is not graphic intense, you'd think it would be easy to implent. I guess if it's no in the code then it won't be in the code. Programmer I'm not.

As for as gear, WoW stirkes  me of the 'Monty Haul of MMOG's. Yeah things like Rings of Power, Invisibility cloaks, and the mighty Excalibur were central to certain stories and grabbed our attention. But to have everything based on loot lacks depth and loses appeal sooner or later (especially when all the phat loot to be had is had...what then ?!). Who know perhaps things will change in time.

Then again, perhaps not.




Novice Member

Joined: 7/08/03
Posts: 1668

11/08/06 2:17:01 PM#13
Wow and Customization shouldn't even be used in the same sentence. The only thing you can really customize in wow is your character name without meeting another dozen clones of your character.

Apprentice Member

Joined: 1/18/06
Posts: 241

11/08/06 2:55:23 PM#14

First and foremost WoW is an overly-hyped game. It's overly-exaggerated game as far as it being the very best.  Well, if it is it just goes to show you the much worse all the other games of the same type really are.  WoW is the best of the worse.

Yes, many people have played it at one time or another but thats because of a few reasons. One, because the game extends to many places unlike many other games.  Two, because of all the hype, people have gone on to try the game out. But just as many like myself saw first hand just how bad it really is and have left never to return.

With this said, the customization in this game is terrible. It has about 6 faces per type with just the hair parts being different and those hairs are just as few as the faces.  Hence, everyone looks alike.

As far as the weapons and armor and other items are concerned, you need a whole lot of grinding and luck just to be able to come up with something worthwhile. And even when you're lucky enough to loot something good, you have to pray you can actually use it. Most items you loot, you can't use due to your profession being different. Nor can you trade, sell or give them away to another player. Only to the vendors can you sell it and they will give you virtually nothing for them.

There is no money to be made in this game. Missions unlike other games don't reward you with cash. Even a game as bad as Starwars Galaxies with it's new nge pays off good cash per mission.

Once you hit the mid to late 50's before this new levels come aboard, you tend to run out of missions with only dungeons to be done. Dungeons which need a whole lot of people to do.  It's not worth it, it's really not.

The people who have played this game and left won't be persuaded to return because we already know how it is.  Now they add 2 new professions but other then this, nothing else has changed.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 1/18/06
Posts: 241

11/08/06 3:02:09 PM#15

I missed adding this. When Vanguard comes out many many of the people on WoW now will leave for this game.  Blizzard also knows this.  WoW won't ever catch up to this new game once it comes out and they know it.

Can't wait for a real good game to come out, something Vanguard looks to be.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 4/20/06
Posts: 4514

why must i be nice to people that have no clue, are lying, or are just stupid?

11/08/06 3:18:00 PM#16
it's the reason i'll play games like eve, uo, and city of- before i play WoW again.  in each of these games, there's a ton of ways to customize your toon.  if they wanted to do something, then they'd make crafting equal to whatever the higher end equipment is, also making it able to change AT LEAST the color of equipment.  or, they'd add one or two more talent trees to each class with BC.

but as usual, nothing worth worrying about in BC.  pre-order and get the pre-order pet, play a toon or two to max level, get bored with the same old garbage they've been doing for the past couple of years, quit again.  not even going to bother.


could we please get correspondent writers and moderators, on the eve forum at, who are well-versed on eve-online and aren't just passersby pushing buttons? pretty please?


Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/06/05
Posts: 522

11/08/06 3:24:15 PM#17

Good editorial Garrett

You basically summed up what I hated about the game when I tried it for 2 weeks.   Thats right, just 2 weeks and I could tell this game was nothing more than a Loot Whoring affair.   I still don't get why people play it, there is really no way to distiguish yourself other than Loot and Level.  

This game took a step back from Ultima Online, like most MMORPGs have.  However, since many people are new to MMORPGs and have never played Ultima Online (Pre Trammel), they don't know the full potential a MMORPG has.  Even Star Wars Galaxies and COH/COV at least made you feel like your character was unique. 

Nice job and keep up the good work. 


Novice Member

Joined: 11/08/06
Posts: 1

11/08/06 3:29:07 PM#18
I used to be a WoW raider and accumulated 50/50 tier 1 and 2 set items from MC and BWL.  The continuous grind to get better items was always addictive, yet after awhile, it became tedious and boring.  About that time I, as a hunter, aquired a petrified leaf from the majordomo loot.  This item began a quest that made me love the game again.

For the first time, I could obtain an epic quality item on my own schedule, based on my own skills.  After some unsuccessful attempts and some annoying "good samaritans" trying to help me, (for those who do not know, any assistance during the quest's demon fights despawns the demons for hours) I completed the quest and received the epic bow and staff for my troubles.

After completing the quest, I realized how much more I enjoyed combatting enemies where the end result was dependent on my actions alone.  Raiding had become essentially repeating the same few key strokes with the occasional change up for a boss.  To get the best items, i had to be online on the set schedule to receive enough DKP (i.e. guild points used to determine looters) which also causes strain with non-WoW players (i.e. the wife).

In my opinion, more solo / small team instances should be created to give players the opportunity to show what they are made of.  The loot should be comparable to high end raid 40 man instances.  I can guarantee that mastering these types of encounters can be just as difficult, if not more so, than the big 40 man raids.  Let the players choose some different item sets for completing the instances.  As a hunter, AGI reigns supreme; however Blizz could change the mechanics of the game up a bit to allow more diversity.  Let the players decide between high strength -vs- high stamina.

As for PvP, it is fun, but the same rules as raiding applies, especially for AV. 

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Joined: 8/22/06
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11/08/06 4:50:25 PM#19
As a father of two I only have a few hours to play each week usually 10. Blizzard needs to pay alot more attention to the nonraiders. They need to realize a large portion of their players might actually have jobs and families. Toss us a bone give us 5 or at most 10 people encounters to do for great loot. The raiders have been given more than enough give the other 90% something to play with for a little while.
  User Deleted
11/08/06 5:47:09 PM#20
Well, is customization of your Avatar really that important? Those MMORPGs with the highest subscriber base are those with the least customization for your electronic alter ego (According to It seems that the majority of players don't really mind the lack of options. At least not enough to affect their decision as to play which game.
Telling a good game from a bad game is pretty simple once it's out. A good game sells like the proverbial hotcakes while a bad one collects dust on the shelf. You may argue that there are examples of good companies going bust while others thrive on selling trash, but generally I see the market as a good indicator on how much merrit a product has.

Now let's imagine a game with a lot of sliders and colour bars to fiddle with during character creation. Assume you can adjust your size, morph your face to quite some extent, chose hairstyle, eye and skin color, various body adornments, etc.
For my argument I will further assume that, almost without exception, everyone in MMORPGs will wear their fighting gear at all times.

Let's start with eyecolour and face options. Practically no one except you will ever notice which one you chose. You will be the Lvl xx healer/tank/dps, not the guy/girl with the slanted blue eyes. Facial hair seems to make you stand out in some cases, though.

Now hairstyle and haircolour will usually be hidden by your helm. Unless, of course, the helm design is so sub-par that the gameprovider offers you an option to hide the helmet (This indeed has happened in at least one case). Further, if you want to display both your helmet/headdress and your hair, this raises polycount and of course there may be problems with the geometry of helm and hair clashing. If you stick to generics here, you run into less trouble.

Scaling options for tall and short. A very subtle distinguishing feature, but somewhat noticeable, granted. However, including this apparently excludes some interaction with world geometry today (i.e. sitting down in a chair at your friendly inn), also mo-capped animations don't seem to scale very well (see EQ2). There may be other ramifiactions which raise development costs/time too, I presume.

Body adornments and skin colour. Unless the armor worn is revealing, next to pointless.

Options for being either left- or righthanded. I am not aware of any game offering this option, so this may not belong here at all. Would probably be noticeable, you really do a lot of fighting in these type of games after all.

If we speak of options for your armor, that's a different kettle of fish, I suppose. Since your gear ist what others actually get to see of you. Adding custom colour and maybe eyecandy effect options to visible equipment pieces may go a long way, in fact the more a developer goes hog wild here, the better.
And if you as developer stuck to two or three standard avatars with maybe a handful options each which do not affect character geometry, I am considerably certain that development will have a much easier time coming up with new weapon and armor designs, since they will exactly know what they will be dealing with. There wont be any surprise graphic glitches with fat/thin tall/short avatars, or the brow not fitting under the helm, etc. No guesswork or extensive testing required on adding new outfits.

Thank you for bearing with me.
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