Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Virtual reality doesn't have to be the same for all observers

World of Warships announced an upcoming feature in which they partner up with a japanese anime called Arpeggio of Blue Steel -Ars Nova- to optionally show players their warships in an anime look. So if you like anime or that specific anime series, you can select to have your ships look like in that anime, with neon runes all over them, and a rather futuristic look. If you don't like that, you can keep the historical World War II look. But the kicker is that you'll see everybody else's ships in the look that *you* chose. The historical players will only see historical ships, the anime players will only see anime ships. The exactly same battle scene will look very different to two players having chosen a different look. And nobody sees an ugly mix of different styles.

I find that concept rather interesting, at it could be applied to lots of other multiplayer games. I frequently hear discussions where some people like or dislike the art style of a specific game. Why not make the art style a matter of player choice? Of course that would have limitations, as you can only change the "skins" or texture, it would cost too much if the animations would change. But it could also solve some political problems, like the endless discussions between people who rather like scantily dressed girls in their games and those people who find that offensive. Why not offer everybody the look he wants?

Developers that already sell skins for their games could implement this easily; Just give players veto power over skins displayed. Either replace other players' skins with a random skin from the player's whitelist or replace them only if they're on the player's blacklist. Of course, any skins entered to the game would have to be approved by the developers. Otherwise you would end up with what early FPSes had to deal with; Full-brightness skins with protruding spikes that are visible in full darkness and even through walls. Or skins using copyrighted material or otherwise likely to cause legal trouble for the developers.

But this system wouldn't shield the developers from any backlash; If they approve a skin that group X wants, they could still be criticized by group Y for capitulating to group X's demands.
Wouldn't this insta-kill the entire cash shop section of dresses and customization?

I mean, why spend money on customizing your avatar to look "unique" when nobody will ever see it?


Not really. If the devs use an "opt-out" system, that ensures that 99% of people will likely see your store-bought materials. And even if they don't? Game companies have been selling appearance packs in even single-player games for years.
If it is a PVP game solid money says that one particular skin will become OP and dominate. Probably some ugly neon wireframe thing.

However the idea that virtual reality can look different to different people is really interesting in general. In the near future when we all travel to virtual offices what is to stop folk viewing their work colleagues as circus animals or strippers? I could be sitting in a Parisian boulevard cafe enjoying a coffee and chat with you while you are enjoying a pan galactic garglebaster in a space station in your version of the sim.
You already have similar for in game with colour-blind mode, where the palets can be swapped to enable players that are lacking the ability to discern between some shades.

The only problem that I see is with games that have animated tells. Changing to a skin that makes any tell more obvious will give an advantage over players using a more subtle skin. I am sure once played a game that had a very user-friendly /mods/overlays folder for reskinning and custom changes but the developer gave that as the reason for why only the default skins were enabled in multiplayer. I just cannot remember what that game was.
I've been asking this question since I first played Dark Age of Camelot at launch and found people were allowed to dye their armor. I wondered then and have wondered ever since why I couldn't have an option to Show Default Colors for all dyed armor in every MMO that allows it.

That can easily be expanded to a whole set of defaults. Personally I would prefer to play most MMOs using the default UI and see the world as it was originally designed. Imagine playing WoW or EQ2 and having every single player-character's mount appear as a horse. Imagine every vanity pet appearing as a hunting hound. Imagine all the armor in steel-grey or brown leather.

I'd pay in a cash shop for an option to set those defaults.

If I recall, America's Army the shooter had the good guys vs the terrorists as the two teams in the shooter.. but you would always see your team as the good guys and the opposite team as the terrorists... while they saw you as the terrorists on their screens. I cant think of an earlier case of this...
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