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MMORPG.com Staff Blog

The staff of MMORPG.com gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

Author: staffblog

Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Community Spotlight: Appearance Preferences

Posted by MikeB Thursday May 5 2011 at 5:13PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Do you want to control how your character appears, or rely on gear for that?" by Amathe. So what are your preferences? Let's start with Amathe himself:

Games seem to fall into three basic camps now on this issue.

In one you look however the gear you use makes you look.  E.g., EQ 1 (though they later introduced dyes and such).

In another you get to design your look, and gear does not really influence it.  E.g., City of Heroes (at least when I played it).

In a third gear influences your look, but you can wear "appearance armor" that let's you look cool, even if your stat gear is not so cool. E.g., EQ II.

Personally I have come to enjoy designing how my character looks, or at least being able to choose from some decent looking appearance armor (if my regular armor is ugly or silly looking).

What do you think?  Is appearance important to you?  Do you want a say in how you look?

csthao prefers the traditional way of doing things, as he's not focused on his character's appearance:

The first choice would be the one I would prefer. I'm not really the type of player that focuses on how I look, I wear whatever is best. As long if it can help me on my daily grind I can care less about how I look. I dont play a game to have brag rights or to make people jealous of what I have.

Although for PvP purposes in many MMOs, changing the appearance of your armor can play a major role in winning or losing. For example in Aion, people usually target players that are weak and poorly geared. But I had a level 30 templar running around in Eltnen wearing what should be level 10-15 gear. People that usually attack me gets surprised at how well I fight against them, and I'm sure its a surprise for them when they lose. So sometimes it can affect your gameplay in PvP situations.

Also, getting these so called armor / weapon appearance change items will make game companies rich. These are one of many items you can acquire through RMT purchases. I for one will never pay extra for any game other than the monthly payments. Whatever is offered through that payment is all the stuff I need.

lizardbones prefers to have a bit more control of his character's appearance, but also feels it depends on the game:

My first choice would be to be able to design the appearance of my character, with gear that influences stats, but not the appearance. Having appearance slots where the armor looks like what I want, but has stats for whatever I've collected would be acceptable as well.

I think whatever system is used should make some sense in the context of the game. i.e. if it makes sense for you to just pick out an outfit, then just pick out an outfit. If you should have to "buff" your outfit with stats, then do so. If you have to craft armor with the appearance and stats you want, fine. As long as it fits with the rest of the game.

Boge, on the other hand, feels very strongly about having full control of his character's appearance:

I'd rather control 100% of my appearance.  What Blizzard is doing with WoW is wrong.  They want everyone to look like clones.

I at least want a wider variety of equal power gear with different appearances so I can pick and choose.  Dyes should be a no brainer these days.  They were in UO, they should be in every game.

Players create a character, an identity, and that is one of the most important parts of an MMORPG.  Forcing people to look a certain way just so you can glance at them in PvP and know how strong they are just just wrong.  Any developer that doesn't offer more appearance options should be ashamed of themselves.

I'm pretty vain when it comes to these games and so I definitely prefer full control over my character but I don't mind having to earn the appearance options. DC Universe Online let you choose how you look but you had to collect and unlock the particular item appearance first. This felt like a really good balance and it gave people a reason to chase cool looking items while also freeing them from having to look like idiots in order to be competitive.

Share your thoughts on this subject in comments below!