Tobold's Blog
Thursday, September 27, 2007
 
Discovering my female side

Trinity from Female-Gamer.com has an interesting article on what women want: clothes and houses. I mean come on, nobody wears the same clothes day in and day out in real life, why the heck to we have to in a game?! And puh-leaze, don’t those devs know that it’s the height of embarrassment to be seen wearing the same clothes as someone else, especially if they were of the opposite sex? That’s one of the most basic things that annoys me in most MMOs. A friend of mine used to tease me that I’d be the best dressed corpse in the battlefield, because I simply refused to wear ugly armor. And what about player housing? Guys think of them as structures where they can dump their loot. Girls think of them as home, a place to decorate and have parties with their friends. Hmmm, I want more from player housing than just dumping my loot. And I'd like better options on clothes, for example the ability to dye them in different colors, or otherwise change my appearance independant from my stats. Guess that's my female side. :)

The latest EQ2 patch was interesting in that respect insofar as you now have not one paper doll but two. The normal paper doll works as before, you put all the gear with the nice stats on it to receive their benefits. But if the gear you have there for the stats isn't looking good to you, you can override the look of it by putting something else into that slot on the second paper doll, the "appearance" paper doll. Anything you put on the appearance paper doll doesn't give you any benefits from stats, but it takes precedence on what you are displayed of wearing. So you be armored heavily, but appear to be wearing just flowing robes. I don't think this is a concept which could be applied to every game, because at least in PvP situations that feature would be used more to mislead the enemy than for just aesthetical purposes.

I noticed that some other games, in the spirit of City of Heroes / Villains, have completely cut the link between the gear you wear, and how you look. Originally in CoH you'd just create your costume at the start of the game and would be stuck with the same look forever. Later a tailor was introduced, where at level 20 for a quest and some cost you can change your look. But the "enhancements" the game has instead of equipment don't modify your look in any way.

Still the majority of games are like World of Warcraft, where what you wear determines both your stats and how you look. Unsurprisingly in many cases people choose stats over looks. And unless you are lucky enough to be able to acquire complete epic sets, the gear you are wearing in WoW often doesn't fit well together, especially since WoW is using lots of bright colors. And often your class determines what looks you can achieve. On my troll warrior helmets mostly look very bad, but I can't wear a much better looking fedora hat without sacrificing major stat advantages, so I just turned helmet display off. My undead priest has epic gear, but most epic priest helmets are displayed as oversized collars, whose look I don't like much either. I would have loved to have a halo on my priest, but never found one with decent enough stats. But while I care about the way I look, I fortunately don't have the typically female problem Trinity is talking about, caring too much about what other people are wearing, not even if it is the same as what I am wearing. That would have been a killer as a raiding priest pre-TBC. There were so many guilds at pretty much the same level between Molten Core and Onyxia that half of the other high-level priests I met were wearing the same T1 gear with T2 helmet from Onyxia as I did.

What I like about Lord of the Rings Online is that it not only has more subdued colors which naturally fit together better, you can also apply dyes to your gear to at least change the color. And player housing has been promised for the next major content patch, book 11. Would be interesting to know whether LotRO ends up attracting more women than WoW by offering them what they want: clothes and houses.
Comments:
I think that is a terrific idea from EQ2 and it is such a missed commercial opportunity for other games it is staggering. Look at the phenomenal success of club-penguin with adults as well as kids - lots of folk like dressing up their character.

Guild Wars is probably the most macho MMORPG type game there is but even still customising armour is a big deal with dyes being some of the most expensive commodities in the game.
 
Lack of bank space is a perpetual problem in WoW, and I don't understand why it is so limited.
This bag/bank space format derives from Diablo, I presume.
I remember in Diablo I used to dump all my stacks of gold in front of the vendors in the town, to free up bag space.

Certainly for spellcasters, people will usually be wearing Epic tailoring outfits or T4/T5 gear, so yes, it does tend to look like a unifrom a lot of the time.
I can't stand ugly shoulder pads, and yet there is no option to hide them, unlike helmets.

If WOW introduced the 'paper doll' idea, it would be very welcome. Instead all they have offered is the possibility of changing your hairstyle at some point in the future.
 
I hate stereotypes. I never fit them. I wish they always came applied with 'many' or perhaps sometimes 'most'. Not all women just want pretty clothes and interior design. I want to slaughter things in my uber gear ;).
 
Maybe not an MMO in the traditional sense of the word, but I read that in Hellgate: London you could choose the color of an armor piece to override the other colors. So where in WoW you'd look like an angry fruit salad, in HGL you could simply select the crimson gauntlet to override the color of the rest of your armor pieces and at least have a consistent color across your complete armor set.
 
This is what drove some of the insanity in EQ. SOE was very smart about making sure that higher level armor looked better than lower level armor. The Shiny Metallic Robe wasn't just a nice item for casters, it looked awesome, as well. Even so, I'm not sure I can accept the idea of wearing plate mail underneath a dress. It just seems strange.
 
This is what drove some of the insanity in EQ. SOE was very smart about making sure that higher level armor looked better than lower level armor.

WoW did this to a certain extent too, I think the issue was more that it was implemented early on, and has become harder to continue. Definitely the very first pieces of armor are extremely dull and generic, and then as you leveled up to 60 they became increasingly colorful and detailed.

Now the issue is that with 6 different Tiers of epic raid armor for 9 different classes, as well as epic PvP gear, epic level 70 world drops, everything is starting to border on ridiculous levels of gaudiness.
 
I'm with Essi. There is nothing so ironically ugly as the girl who puts pretty above substance. Instead of getting in the game, or picking a game they can get into, they try to impose their narrow view in the virtual world. You want to dress up puppies in hats and sweaters and parade them around in an online dog show? Great, but go somewhere other than WoW to do it you Paris Hilton wannabes!

Don't get me wrong: customization and personalization is great, and is greatly overlooked in many MMOs. Trying to paint that as female, though, just doesn't help. It's like saying the game of chess would have have more appeal to women if the pieces weren't a drab black-and-white and if the knight was instead a unicorn! A window dressing can help, but underneath it all the game is still the game. Making it girly does not a girly game make.
 
Men like to dress their female avatars up, too.
 
My Hunter never got his T0 shoulders because I hated the way they looked with the huge blades sticking up beside his head. I passed on them twice to the amazement of almost everyone in both groups. Of course I also had the Stratholme Milita Shoulders which had a good amount of Agi but with a much more subdued profile.

I'll frequently choose (or turn down) new gear based on looks compared to my current gear. Yes, I might be nerfing myself but I'm also not a hardcore Raider and we fall back on the age old argument here. It's my $15, I'll dress my avatar however I like.
 
I'm also with Essi - that's such an incredibly shallow depiction of 'what women want'.

It's not what I want - I can dress up and look pretty in rl, I don't need to waste time doing it in the game. And houses are great and it'd be fun to make them reflect the personality of my individual characters, but what I *want* is compelling storylines, interesting quests, NPCs that provide rich depth and background to the world and make me feel like there's an existence outside my own experience.

I love fights with dialogue and I love fights that require skill and strategy. I love exploration and quests and riddles that are really riddles.

So I hope nobody listens to Trinity when they design a game, unless they're designing Sims 6.0
 
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