Yes, I'm a shop-a-holic.
There... that wasn't so bad, admitting my problem.
See, Mabinogi has a very simple yet deep system for customizing your avatar. Basically, there are a few standard faces, eyes, and mouths that you would have in most MMOs. But then you can set age and, as I have commented in another blog, gain weight.
But the REAL money maker in Mabinogi are its clothes.There are so many ways to get them, and so many ways to tweak them to your style.
Essentially, you can obtain clothes:
So once you have some money and want to start customizing your character's look, you need to be really careful about what you buy. Not only will you spend too much very easily, but if you don't shop carefully, you will be ripped off and more than likely find something better for less. Take your time.
The best thing that worked for me was to look at other players, find something I liked and then asked them about it. Where did they get that? How much was it? Is it dyed? Dyeing clothes can be a pricey activity, but I have found that the most expensive dyes (black and white) really do no good. The black is COMPLETE black and covers up all details. And white? Well, white is for good people.
So, I found some grey/dark mauve colors and went to town. When I was done I had spent at least a few hundred thousand, but it was worth it:
As you can see, I've got kind of a gothy type thing going on, but I don't mind it that much, it kind of works for the setting of the game. I was going to go for more of an Indiana Jones type look, and then thought about a messenger/scout type look, but finally settled on a "can go out to dinner OR fight a giant bear" type look. I think it works.
Mabinogi is a pretty common cash-shop MMO in the way that some of its most popular items are fluff items. I am not sure if it's the fact that there are a great deal of younger players (tweens) but clothing, and customizing that clothing, is big business. I know players that trade in just dye, and players that trade in clothing and armor only. They make millions. I have made all of my cash from mining and selling a few cash items, and spending 10 dollars can easily translate into a million bucks if you know what you are doing.
That's how Mabinogi pulled me in: it offered me choices. I know people that would sneer at the art style of the game, but when game-play is fantastic, the art becomes better over time. Players that really enjoy Vanguard are able to look past the glitches and bugs that still do exist, because they enjoy the game, but when you mix great game-play and plenty of choices with simple yet boundless customization, you got me hooked! I have enjoyed Vanguard, for example, so much more since they put in the appearance slot.
Whenever I researched (talked to people in game) if I should get armor or clothing, I laughed at all the different responses I got. The PvPers seemed to indicate that without armor, I would be deader than a doornail. The adventurers laughed at the need for high defence, one saying (perfectly) "...why would you need defence if you don't get hit?"
In other words, clothing is cheaper to buy and maintain, but does less for you when you get bonked. Armor does more, costs more, and can be more to repair. So, I asked myself how I play, and how that would be affected by my clothing. Most of the time I play with a pet, and have enough of those to switch out when one timer runs out. I always have a pet healing me, helping me fight, or carrying my stuff. I rarely do get hit, and when I do, I can survive it.
I went for clothing. I go for looks over stats always, but the lower pricing of clothing sold me (literally.)
I spent an entire two afternoons shopping, finding vendors, and asking players in game about their items. I love the fact that gaming for me doesn't always mean one thing. Mabinogi will give you those choices, and you can excel at almost any of them with enough time and energy.
When you skip from one activity (dungeon crawls to crafting to shopping for example), you don't feel as though you are leaving something behind because you can always pick it back up later. The skill system always has somewhere for you to go, something for you to get better at, but without pushing something else out of the way. You can, essentially, have one character that would normally equal several alts in other MMOs.