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EverQuest Next Forum » General Discussion » An Elegant Solution to Armor Customization

15 posts found
  zipkus

Novice Member

Joined: 8/13/13
Posts: 12

 
OP  8/14/13 2:00:04 AM#1

TL;DR and Style

Here's the TL;DR: If you can permanently change the world, the world should permanently change you too: your armor should reflect your adventures.

The rest of it is pretty long. Sorry about that. It could probably be like 12% shorter (ish) if I cut the jokes, but then you might get bored. And some of it I can't put into precise words, so you're just gonna have to close your eyes as you read (metaphorically) and visualize the examples I give you. Try to stay with me.

Technical Notes

Also before I really get started, here's a quick aside: it may be that SOE has already thought of all this, had these conversations, and decided that it's still too far out of reach for today's hardware/algorithms. I certainly hope that's not the case. If you're reading this and you work for SOE and that is the case, please reconsider.

Introduction

SOE recently had a poll on the EQN site about armor customization, so I have a hunch there's a bit of turmoil and/or indecision on the subject. Allow me to be of service.

The Current Problem of Armor Customization

One problem with current systems like WoW's Transmogrification (aside from the terminology being unjustly lifted, without citation, from the unrivaled "Calvin and Hobbes" comics) is that it takes too long to determine which pieces (if any) fit the look you want, travel around the world to collect them, and then actually get them all to drop. Don't get me wrong! If they were actually useful in any real way beyond vanity, I'd say they should be much harder to get. But as it is, a partially-complete transmog set is more of a detriment than a help, because it'll look like crap if you put it all on sans-shoulders, and until your missing piece drops it'll take up slots in your bank or Void Storage for nothing. If it's not a boss drop you need but a rare item from the world, you can pay an exorbitant fee to get the item on auction from another player, but then you're depriving that possibly good gear from another player who might actually use it for its original purpose.

Another big problem in my mind is that in quite a few of these vanity cases, the end result doesn't even look like it belongs in the game. Sure, back in the classic WoW days (before transmogs) I put together an item set that made my hunter look vaguely like Darth Vader, albeit with a blue lightsaber. Was it cool? Eh, it was alright I guess, although no one seemed to care. Did it make sense for the Warcraft lore and art style? Not one tiny iota.

Core Concept

As you adventure, things happen to you. Dirt flies through the air all around you (we've all seen that in near-overabundance in the demo vids), you get splashed by lava, you trudge through swamps, you fall into swamps, you get smashed in the chest by a golem's fist; the list goes on. These things have been happening since the dawn of MMOs, but does our armor ever show it? No! Why not? -- Who really cares why, it'd still be infinitely cooler if it showed up, amirite? And if not *all* of it, because pretty soon you'd look trashed, then at least *some* of it. I propose that EverQuest Next break the mold here: if they're going to allow characters to "permanently" affect the world, they should cause the world to permanently affect the characters in the process.

This proposition would solve the thematic problem in two important ways. All of your armor textures would be modified primarily by two things: the environment you're in, and combat. But I'm actually dividing it into two different implementation requirements: textures and morphology.

Thematic Armor Alteration: Texture

Suppose you're a Troll in plate armor, visiting the ruins of Grobb in Innothule Swamp, where you perhaps spent some time in Classic EQ. I know I didn't. (GFay baby!) (And no I don't know if Grobb is in ruins or if Innothule is even in the game; I'm just sayin'.) Nevertheless, unless you're in full adamantite, your armor probably has some iron in it, and iron rusts. So your armor rusts. At first, it's slow, but the more time you spend there the rustier it all gets.

The key is that all of your armor gets affected at once (although maybe your boots should get it a little more), and if slightly-rusty is a look you're going for, you can go spend a little time in the swamp or lake of your choice and nail the look without weeks of fruitless farming. If you want to get it taken off (beside the option I mention below), all it might take is a trip to Lavastorm and some burning chest pain to get your armor "reforged," as it were, through the natural heat in the zone. Stay very long, though, and you might end up with black scorch marks in place of the rust.

Additionally, wherever you are, there's dust and dirt being kicked up while you destroy landscapes and dominate monsters. Blood will probably spray at you from time to time. Over time, your armor will slowly accumulate a layer of grime on it, something like blood, mud, and dust mixed together, depending on where you go and what your combat role is. But if you've ever worn the same clothes for very long (I'm talking about Real Life here), even in the outdoors (I once backpacked for nearly two full weeks without washing anything but my socks), you'll realize that things can only get so dirty. (The function of dirty in time is asymptotic.) So it's possible, and reasonable, for this effect to be forcibly limited so as not to drown out any environmental effects, yet still show up on, say, your freshly-polished white greaves which you then wore while crossing the Plains of Karana.

These effects, whether from combat or the environment, should be possible by layering textures over existing armor models.

Thematic Armor Alteration: Morphology

This mostly applies to combat. When you're in combat, you'll get hit with things, and that'll dent, scratch, puncture, rip, cave in, burn, or otherwise damage your armor, whatever it is you wear. The types of damage your armor sustains will depend on the types and abilities of the mobs you're fighting: a zone full of stone golems might cause only large dents, but a zone full of fire elementals may create burn holes or melted metal.

The environment comes into play here, too: if you're spending time in Lavastorm as mentioned above, perhaps you get hit with some lava splattering out of a nearby vent, and the edge of your breastplate melts a little, or it burns a hole clean through your robe. If you're in Everfrost Peaks for too long, perhaps icicles begin to hang down from various parts of you, or exist as streams of ice down your body.

These effects are more than simple textures, but I feel they lend a lot more validity to the entire point of this post. Textures are trivial, and as a result they often feel somewhat cheap and lame. This, on the other hand, however it were implemented, would be incredible. I'm convinced it's possible, though: start by building your armor out of voxels, and go from there.

Proof of Adventure ("If these armors could talk...")

The net effect of all this is that when you go back to town, people can tell where you've been, who you've been killing, and even how good (or bad) you are at killing them. Anyone who doesn't have messed up armor clearly hasn't been out having fun. And through your journeys, your armor helps to make your character unique in a very natural way. Even when you replace some pieces or get your gear repaired and cleaned, if you're really playing right, it won't take long for you to look like an adventurer again.

Penalties

As your gear gets damaged, especially through morphological effects, it should begin to lose stats: a cracked shield simply cannot block as effectively, and will not hit as hard when it slams. These penalties will be very minor all the way up until the point where the item actually fully breaks, so that one may decide to keep one's "cool new look" a bit longer without suffering for it. (This also lends utility to widespread stat buffs -- see below.)

Broken Gear and Restoration (Impermanence)

Broken gear provides no stat bonuses. It's simply unwearable. If your robe gets shredded enough, it'll end up as a pile of tatters in your backpack, and you'll have to run through town in your skivvies and find a skilled tailor to get the pieces sewn back together properly. Any magic in the cloth will still be retained by the scraps, so with a few stitches it'll be your old robe again. The tailor will even offer to have his apprentice wash it for you at the same time, to get that mold smell out. (The same repair and clean concept would apply for other types of armor.)

SOE has said that the world will heal itself over time or with server restarts. I don't think the same should hold true for armor, especially since players [probably] can't maliciously destroy other players' armor to cause grief. It might result from PvP, but I don't think we'll all be required to partake in that. But whether one would be able to choose certain effects to retain on their armor, or whether they'd be forced after each repair to go back out into the world and find some fresh look, I really haven't decided, and that's one area where I need input on the opinions of players. One thought is that the more "vanity" type effects (covered below), as well as strongly beneficial ones, should be of some magical nature and would automatically be retained unless an additional solvent were used during washing, but rust and such would always be buffed out as a courtesy.

Beneficial Effects (Single Item "Enchants")

Imagine the following: you and your fellow adventurers manage to corner and weaken a powerful dragon, and you yourself get the killing blow by driving your two-handed sword through his heart. He bleeds out onto your leather gloves, staining them with Dragon's Blood (and likely scalding you in the process). The blood would really be rendered on the gloves using the system described above, proving to the world that you were the one to slay a dragon. But that's not all! Suppose you decided that was cool and everything, but you wanted to have your armor cleaned and repaired anyway. You take it all to a craftsman in town who specializes in that kind of thing, but although he's able to retool and clean most of your gear, his apprentice was unable to get the stain of dragon's blood off your gloves; you now have a permanent reminder of your dragonslaying on those gloves. You take a look at the stat values (to see whether this effect has permanently damaged them and warrants replacement), and realize: the magical properties of dragon's blood have actually increased some appropriate stat (perhaps your strength)!

That's one example of many small but highly satisfying rewards that could be hidden throughout the world. It might not necessarily occur every time you kill a dragon (or whatever other mob), such that it wouldn't be the kind of thing people would farm just for that reason; it would simply seem to the player like serendipity, and enhance the magic and wonderous feeling of the game.

[Of course, over time as people fully discover and catalogue MMOs, it might be the sort of thing they farm... but I have no solution for that right now, as I've never seen an MMO where the player base doesn't eventually lose the sense of awe and just start chasing specific rewards rather than chasing "adventure and loot" in an abstract sense. We can save that brainstorm for another post, though.]

Beneficial Effects (Widespread Stat Adjustments)

Now, let's expand on the concept of beneficial stat modifications. Suppose you're a fingerwiggler, and you've been hanging out in the new Feerrott an awful lot. It's kinda swampy there, and presumably humid, so all your clothes are just damp all the time. Your robe starts to get moldy, and the longer you spend there the moldier it gets. This doesn't have a huge impact on the base stats, but it would show up in the robe's appearance if the cloth is of a light color. (Fortunately, today's hardware can't render the stink that would accompany the effect, or I might not recommend this system at all...) But in the real world, mold is a source of antibiotics, so in a contrived example here, that mold might result in your character actually having a slightly higher disease resistance. Run up against a caster who uses diseases, and you might fare pretty well. The same goes for adventuring for too long in Everfrost Peaks: your armor gets coated with a layer of snow and ice that turns it bluish-white and dramatically increases your resistance to fire for a little while; move from there to Lavastorm and it'll melt away before too long, but it'll still help some while it lasts. And the longer you stayed in Everfrost, the thicker the ice, the longer it lasts, and the more it helps. (As a mechanics note, the resist buffs would of course diminish as the armor returns to normal, not all at once at the end.)

Pure Vanity Effects

Although I think it's a little silly (not to mention out of place), many people in today's MMOs do still like to wear fancy looking armor. This needn't be completely discarded: firstly, several adequate base looks could be provided as morphological alternatives; and secondly, the textures of the armor could be customized through adventures in both normal and special "vanity zones." Not that the sole purpose of these zones is for armor aesthetics, but imagine you're digging and you uncover something like Crystal Caverns. After you've stayed in there for a little while, crystals begin to grow all over your armor! Not only would this be a cool look that you might be interested in keeping, and possibly have some magical boon, but when you go back to town and show it off, it would inspire other people to go exploring to find other cool zones!

As stated above, these would probably be implemented as more lasting effects that a simple scrub could not remove.

Character Scarring

Once the framework is in place for armor texture overlays, why stop there? As your character adventures, battles, and is injured or killed (or you get your hands scalded by dragon's blood), your character could acquire battle scars anywhere on their body. They'd usually be hidden by armor, but you could strip down and show everyone that you truly are a veteran player. If you have a thick lattice of tiny cuts covering your body, you may be a long-time player who is great at dodging the 1-shot strokes that really matter, or you may just be a newbie who was in the wrong place when a pack of plague rats wandered by. If your skin is clear except for a couple enormous scars that go halfway around you, you might be a great wizard whose tank died a couple times (and who followed suit of course), or you might be a rookie tank who cheaped out on armor and sucks at avoidance. The point is, they add more character to your character.

Cosmetic Magic

Of course, for those of us who are so vain that their skin must be absolutely unblemished, cosmetic magics may be available in some areas of the world to restore (or perhaps in other ways alter) your original appearance; however, since cosmetic magic is so impractical for real world applications, most academies of magic frown upon it as a discipline, and its practitioners are somewhat shunned. As a result, cosmetic magic is not inexpensive (when it's available at all).

Side Effect: Saving Bank Space

No special "transmog" gear means you can actually use your bank for its intended purpose: storing valuable items. The ease of re-skinning your gear with a bit of adventuring in an environment of your choice obviates the need for stockpiling several different transmog sets at once.

Weapons

I suppose these effects could all be applied to weapons too, but I'm not sure that combat would be as appealing if they were. No one wants to attack with a rusty sword, after all. I haven't given it too many thoughts, so please add your own!

End (Finally!)

That's all I got! I've really said just about everything I can. I think it could be a great enrichment feature for the game, and would truly break down barriers that games haven't really touched since... well, almost ever, to my [limited] knowledge. Let me know what you think, and if you like it, tell SOE too so they'll make it happen!

  ignore_me

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/04/11
Posts: 2034

8/14/13 2:05:14 AM#2
I'm for decay.

Survivor of the great MMORPG Famine of 2011

  Stiler

Hard Core Member

Joined: 10/19/05
Posts: 592

8/14/13 2:26:04 AM#3

I LOVE the idea of your armor and "scars" being affected by where you go and what you encounter.

 

As long as there are ways (As you mentioned) of having your armoru cleaned or scars removed I am all for this.

 

 

  zipkus

Novice Member

Joined: 8/13/13
Posts: 12

 
OP  8/14/13 2:53:22 AM#4

Thanks :D

Er, I'm guessing by decay you mean armor decay, ignore_me?

  ujbeen

Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/14/13
Posts: 21

8/14/13 9:12:15 AM#5
excellent ideas
  Sephiroth121

Apprentice Member

Joined: 4/10/06
Posts: 1

8/14/13 7:12:17 PM#6

This idea is very amicable to my sensibilities. Not enough gemes offer you the option to actually make the armor feel likie it's part of your character, as opposed to something they are just wearing.

 

I'd like to see this implemented.

  Role_player

Novice Member

Joined: 7/30/13
Posts: 32

8/15/13 11:14:32 AM#7
Very good idea!
  strattac

Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/12/12
Posts: 24

8/22/13 12:19:25 AM#8
genius, why haven't devs though of this yet?
  sanshi44

Advanced Member

Joined: 6/12/09
Posts: 1022

8/22/13 12:45:11 AM#9
Originally posted by Stiler

I LOVE the idea of your armor and "scars" being affected by where you go and what you encounter.

 

As long as there are ways (As you mentioned) of having your armoru cleaned or scars removed I am all for this.

 

 

 This you could even add a sosial aspect and requite crafting classes such as blacksmith to fix the higher end gear :) for all those crafters out there.

  zipkus

Novice Member

Joined: 8/13/13
Posts: 12

 
OP  8/22/13 12:55:46 AM#10
Originally posted by sanshi44

 This you could even add a sosial aspect and requite crafting classes such as blacksmith to fix the higher end gear :) for all those crafters out there.

Exactly! Allowing DIY repairs would fit quite nicely in with tradeskills.

I still haven't landed on how/whether looks could be locked in place, or interact with each other (locked ice + fire/evil area = black ice? locked crystal look + evil area = dark crystal look?), but I think that's an exercise the devs could work out once they pick it up. Unless some go-getter here wants to do it. ;)

  Uzial

Advanced Member

Joined: 6/17/06
Posts: 5

8/22/13 1:46:12 AM#11

This systems exists already, not in such an elaborate application but in Asheron's Call 2 (two) your armor would get covered in blood and be more beat up as you lost HP, when you healed back up you regained a normal appearance. That game was released in 2004 I believe, making It happen is as simple as assigning effect or texture changes to another condition.

 

It would be fun to see this implemented again on a more sophisticated scale.

  IsilithTehroth

Apprentice Member

Joined: 9/14/05
Posts: 140

8/22/13 4:36:12 PM#12

While it seems cool to get battle scars and different weather effects applied to armor, I doubt it is pausible in today's tech because everyone would need to render those visual effects. Not only that but it would be a pain if you get a cool effect on your armor such as icicles and want to show someone in a non ice area it would melt before then. Sure it would help with emersion if you are in a battle and get critical hit by an Orgre first and it dents your armor, but really the novelty would become old after a while. Unless they give special variations to travelers who say went to an area with lava then a swamp or cold area and developed obsidian or other unique properties.

 

As long as they can keep adding tons of variation and different properties then it could work. 

MurderHerd

  Gnostik

Novice Member

Joined: 8/11/12
Posts: 47

8/23/13 11:06:24 PM#13

I started skimming at the Troll-in-the-swamp example, but I do think I got most of your points. I like the spirit of your post, but I don't know that I can get behind the core idea.

First, I don't know that this is really a "solution" to the armor customization issue. There's only so much you can do with texture overlays, like blood and mud, to change the look of armor. And those changes could never be as drastic as a completely different model or underlying texture.

And from a gameplay perspective, it seems you would simply go to the environment that gave you the look you want, and do a short "grind" of whatever activity produced it. Have I got that right? One thing I'm not clear on is how you'd prevent, say, your muck-drenched armor from the swamp from turning into charred and blackened armor during a dungeon crawl.

For the record I think armor should reflect where you've been and what it does, just in a slightly different way. If you had, say, armor made from red dragonscales, people could see that and would know that your fire resistance was higher. Beyond some limited dye/lacquer type modifications, I think that armor should reflect your character's actions. But I think your suggestion may take that to a level of detail that isn't really worth it.

(Side note: though your post is long, at least you took the time to format it well. Thanks for the consideration.)

  zipkus

Novice Member

Joined: 8/13/13
Posts: 12

 
OP  8/24/13 4:30:19 AM#14

Gnostik:

The idea also encompasses rendering armor with voxels so the models themselves could be altered by environmental effects and combat, but you're right, all the altered looks would still derive from the original model.

You've got it right with the grind thing, but it could be as simple as wading around for an hour or even sitting AFK in a snowstorm... so it becomes less interesting in practice if effects really are lockable, and nearly pointless if they aren't. And I touched on this but I'm still at odds with myself on whether it should be allowed: there could be something like a vial of illusion fixation that you'd treat your armor with to retain a look you obtained somewhere and prevent further environmental alteration. The problem with that is, then you stop reflecting where you've been and start showing off some arbitrary feature. The vanity section at the bottom was a stab at bridging those extremes: specially designed armor effects (i.e., extra cool-looking ones) could come from hidden places in the world, and they'd naturally last much longer and be resistant to repairs and cleaning. And while you're adventuring, you never know what sort of zone/armor effect you're going to find.

Regardless, I'm starting to lose steam on this whole topic. SOE already seems to have their plan pretty well in mind, and several of the high-ups have apparently ignored several tweets from me about it, so it feels like a waste of time. I'd personally love to see the feature in an MMO, but then I don't much care for the "fashion culture" that's become so common in the genre. To me, it's a gimmick to attract more people. IMHO, making a game that appeals to all audiences is like rolling a bard... it might be decent at a lot of things, but it'll never be a truly *great* game in the one aspect that counts, the whole reason behind the genre: challenging adventures. Challenge breeds groups, groups have fun adventuring together; repeat. Everything else... well, it doesn't matter, does it?

  Gnostik

Novice Member

Joined: 8/11/12
Posts: 47

8/24/13 5:52:15 PM#15

Well, "fashion culture" has existed in the genre for quite a while, I'd say. Possibly since they first paired graphics with MUDs.

 

I think it's up to the developers what kind of fashion culture they want to create. I'll be pretty disappointed if we get, essentially, WoW transmogrification. As far as I know, that was a band-aid fix that was necessitated because their graphics tech didn't allow for dyes.

 

For somebody to make a "next-gen" MMO and not plan for dyes or even more advanced modifications to armor is beyond me. And if you have that, there's no need for "transmog" schemes that erode the meaning behind a player's appearance.