Tobold's Blog
Friday, April 25, 2014
Another Wildstar beta weekend

Maybe I was born a cynic. More likely, having played MMORPGs since the last millenium and thus having read thousands of official communications of game companies about their MMORPGs has turned me into a cynic regarding such announcements. In any case, if I read an announcement from a game company, I always assume that there is more to it than just what it says.

Carbine a while ago gave a very detailed explanation about why there is just a limited number of beta weekends. Basically the devs wanted people to beta test, but the sales people wanted to limit beta access so that people don't play too much Wildstar for free and then don't buy it. Great piece of communication, and very much understandable.

But if you keep all those differing interests in mind, you interpret the announcement of a "bonus" beta weekend (starting today) with different eyes. It is unlikely that the sales people changed their mind. If Carbine changed their beta schedule, it is because the devs were able to persuade the other people in the company that they really, really needed more testing. Or, in other words, the last beta weekend with the new user interface went badly. We don't get a "bonus" beta weekend because Carbine loves us, but because last week's version of the game wasn't exactly "launch ready", and now they need more testing in a hurry to make it so.

It's okay, I still have some things to try out regarding the possibility of making money with crafting as long as I stick to the lowest level of recipes. But I clearly see the negative side of this bonus beta weekend as well. I've seen the bugs in the new UI, I know that this bonus weekend isn't a sign of generosity.

Thursday, April 24, 2014
Are choppers sexist?

Blizzard this month started a collaboration with a TV series American Choppers to produce Azeroth Choppers. And the way I heard about it was by reading my MMO blog newsfeed, where several feminist blogs complained about that move as being sexist.

I find that complaint itself very sexist. It suggests that women could not possibly be interested in choppers. That is like saying that World of Warcraft, which is a game about hunting and killing, is a game for men and could not possibly appeal to women. Female gamers have fought long and hard to be recognized as being equally interested and good at games about killing. Why should women not be interested in choppers?

Feminists complaining about choppers are reinforcing exactly the gender stereotypes that true gender equality is trying to overcome. I would find it extremely insulting to women if anybody suggested a marketing campaign linking World of Warcraft to knitting and quilting in order "to appeal to women". Gender equality requires us to forget about those stereotypes, and to recognize that men and women can be equally interested in the same things. Putting male/female labels on items like choppers or cooking pans is unhelpful.

Voting with your wallet

Syl recently asked in an image in a post "If I'm supposed to vote with my wallet, then is a wealthier man's vote more valuable than mine?". Obviously a trick question. Just think of the situation where voting with your wallet is the most direct and obvious: An auction. Does the wealthiest man in the room win all items in the auction? No. Because that wealthy man is at the auction to buy antique furniture, so he won't outbid you on your Star Wars collectible action figure. You win the auction for the action figure not because you are the wealthiest person in the room, but because that action figure is worth more to you than it is to anybody else in the room.

In the realm of games, that is most obvious with MMORPGs that have a subscription business model. Voting with your wallet is a $15 a month difference. For a large majority of players their wealth plays no role in the decision of whether to subscribe to that game or not. The question is rather whether that game is worth $15 a month to them, because they have that $15 but might prefer to spend it on something else.

Now Syl asks where developers get the information from what the players want. Easy. By watching the money coming in. Of course that isn't extremely specific, you can't easily identify a single feature that players want or don't want that way. But Blizzard most certainly has mountains of data for each of the expansions of World of Warcraft showing how many people resubscribed and how long they stayed after resubscribing for the expansion. And those data allow them to rank those expansion in terms of which one the players liked the most. Which then can influence design decisions for future expansions. That also works when comparing two different games: World of Warcraft makes a lot more money than Darkfall, so game developers from other companies rather try to emulate WoW than Darkfall. The devs got the information about what players want from the market.

In Free2Play games people spend very different amounts of money, and thus their votes count more or less. Some features are in some games because of some "whales" spending hundreds or thousands of dollars because of those features. But many other features are designed around getting free players engaged enough to value the game highly enough to spend at least a few bucks. If MMORPGs have a strong trend towards Free2Play games, it is because players DID vote with their wallets on that issue. Many companies reported increased earnings and profits after switching from a subscription model to a Free2Play model. And apparently they have enough data to consider the move in the opposite direction as suicidal. If a game earns more money after switching to Free2Play, obviously a sufficient number voted with their wallet that they would like to spend more than $15 per month on that game. Plus you capture all the players who value the game at $5 per month, who were previously excluded. If you count every dollar as one vote, Free2Play simply got more votes than the subscription model.

That doesn't mean that whatever game feature or business model gets the most dollar votes will replace all others. Just like in a political election the minority might be sizable. So if too many game companies decided that theme park MMORPGs are the way to go and nobody makes sandbox MMORPGs, then going against that trend might be a wise decision. Better have a large market share of the minority, than a tiny slice of the majority market. There will always be room in the market for at least one subscription game, although it isn't obvious whether there is room in the market for a subscription game that isn't called World of Warcraft as long as WoW is around.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
What is the state of The Elder Scrolls Online?

Today I had a mail from IGN in my mailbox, who did a review of The Elder Scrolls Online and gave it a not really great score of 78. That is the day after reading the PC Gamer review which gave TESO a 68. A look at Metacritic reveals a familiar story: A bunch of reviews from release day giving the game high-ish scores around 90. And then reviews with lower scores trickling in over the three weeks since. Average score thus trending downwards, currently at 78, which is less than stellar.

I wonder if the actual players show a similar trend. I have no idea how many copies The Elder Scrolls Online sold, apparently Zenimax only published how many people signed up for the free beta. That is borderline misleading, because obviously not everybody interested in a free beta will then want to pay the price of a full game plus a $15 a month subscription. I would be really interested to know the actual sales up to now. The only data I have is the very imprecise Xfire score compiled by the Nosy Gamer, which shows TESO being played less than SWTOR or FFXIV, and only slightly more than Aion.

Now in the MMORPG blogosphere there is frequently talk of the "three-monther" MMORPG. Many triple-A MMORPGs post-WoW have lost the majority of their initial players in the first three months. But personally I believe that over half of that three-month loss happens at the end of the first month, because that is the first time where a player has to decide whether he actually wants to pay a subscription for the game he is playing. Now I've read some stories about accounting irregularities with TESO, where basically you couldn't play your free month if you didn't have $15 on your credit card. All game companies are trying to force you to sign up for a subscription, so usually you need to subscribe and then actively unsubscribe before the free month ends if you don't want to pay any subscription fee. But the end of the first month still remains a rather important milestone. Too bad that as we don't even know initial sales, it is unlikely that Zenimax will reveal how many players they lost after one or three months.

In the specific case of The Elder Scrolls Online there will be another important milestone after two months: The Wildstar headstart begins May 31st. It is inevitable that *some* players will decide to switch from TESO to Wildstar, but very hard to predict how many that will be. Warlords of Draenor will probably be too late in the year to really make a big dent into TESO player numbers any more.

Up to now I have no data which would suggest that The Elder Scrolls Online has better than mediocre success. But if somebody has data that suggest otherwise, I would be very happy to hear them. From what you know, how is The Elder Scrolls Online doing?

The value of trash mobs

My pen & paper role-playing campaign uses Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition rules. 4E rules are excellent for creating epic combat encounters. As I wrote in our campaign journal yesterday, this week we had an encounter which involved an evil cleric, a vampire, a basilisk, and five minor vampire spawns. So the players need to assess the relative danger that those 4 different types of enemy pose to them, and make tactical decisions which enemy to take out first. And the rules system gives them daily powers, powers they can use once per encounter, and powers they can use every round to select from. So as long as players enjoy that sort of tactical games, 4E makes for really great epic fights.

What 4E does much less well is trash mobs. "Classic", that is earlier editions of Dungeons & Dragons, had more, but smaller encounters. For example the Keep on the Borderlands (Caves of Chaos) classic D&D module from 1979 has 64 encounters, but most of them are small and with just one type of monsters. So you meet 9 kobolds in one room, and then 3 orcs in the next, while 4E would rather do fewer encounters, but each having several monster types. In earlier editions of D&D all spells are "daily" powers, so if you use your magic missile in one fight, you can't use it in the next. Thus a series of small encounters works as a challenge of resource management. In 4E players would just use at-will and encounter powers if they met 3 orcs, and thus spend at best a healing surge here or there in a series of small encounters.

Thus my 4E campaign looks a bit like a MMORPG raid dungeon without trash mobs: There are only epic boss fights. Or rather, there are boss fights, and non-boss fights which aren't any less epic. No need to grind through trash mobs which pose no real challenge to the players. Or is there?

A reader commented yesterday that my players were frequently rather timid, and not very heroic. And I began to wonder in how far that is my fault: If every single fight they enter is a life or death epic struggle, no wonder that they are rather careful. Maybe I need more trash mob encounters, where my players without much effort dispatch 3 orcs. Maybe there is a psychological value to trash mob encounters in making the players feel strong and heroic, and then less afraid of the epic boss fights. After all, there must be a reason those trash mobs are in every MMORPG raid dungeon.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Designing massively multiplayer games for multiple players

I was browsing the web and came across the PC Gamer review of The Elder Scrolls Online. And what struck me about the review was the following paragraphs:
One of The Elder Scrolls Online's biggest weaknesses as an MMO is that it often becomes a worse game when large numbers of players are involved in the same activity. While questing in the High Rock area of Stormhaven I was directed to a monastery that was under attack by bandits. I was given two quests: put out six fires, and deliver healing to four injured monks. Credit for completing these objectives is only granted to the player that performs them, which means that I was put in indirect competition with every other player in the area—and given the linear nature of the game's zone, that means a lot of other people. The monastery might have been on fire, but there weren't enough fires for everybody: which meant hanging around waiting for fires to respawn so that I could get the credit for putting them out. Badly-designed quests like this one are common, and even when your objective is more deftly constructed you are always aware of the conga-line of players waiting to do the exact same thing that you are doing. This takes the game to some strange places: I'll never forget the time I traveled back in time in the guise of an ancient warrior only to find a room full of doppelgangers jumping about, dancing, and waiting for a boss to spawn. Immersive it isn't.
Don't get me wrong, I don't think this is a particular weakness of The Elder Scrolls Online. I pretty much had the same experience in my Wildstar beta weekends: Wildstar has a feature called challenges. The first time you kill a certain type of mob in a area or click on a certain type of item, you get a loud "Challenge begins!" message, telling you that you should now kill X of those monsters or click on Y of those items within a time limit. Sometimes there are several levels possible, with numbers displayed on how many monsters/items you need for bronze, silver, and gold level. And rewards for those challenges are good, for example bags, gear, or crafting resources. But these challenges are obviously designed so that you can achieve them IF, and only if, you are the only player in the area. If you start the challenge and then realize that another player is also doing it, you'll both fail, or at best get bronze.

I consider that to be extremely bad game design for a massively multiplayer game. What those challenges teach the players is that other players are the enemy, who make you fail your challenges. With the timed challenges of Wildstar the effect is especially harsh, because you get an actual "You failed!" message shouted at you. But of course outside challenges Wildstar has exactly the same problems as mentioned by PC Gamer above: Players compete for mob or resource spawns, and it breaks immersion if you are one of many "Chosen Ones" all doing exactly the same stuff.

All this teaches players that the optimum number of other players in the same zone as you is zero. If you had the choice to play through that zone with other players or alone, you'd chose alone for most of the content and only do group content with others. At some point in the future we might actually see a MMORPG which offers the option to play through single-player instances as a feature. There certainly would be interest in that. But then the whole business model of MMORPGs collapses: Why should you be required to pay more money to play multiplayer TESO than to play single-player Skyrim, if most of the time when playing TESO you wished you were alone in the zone? Same for Wildstar, although it doesn't have that obvious single-player game to compare it to.

Fortunately there are also some bright spots. For example in Wildstar, if you need to kill a boss mob for a quest, you don't need to kill that boss mob alone, or be the first one to touch it. If you come across that boss mob already in a fight with other players, you just need to get a single hit in, and you still get full credit for your quest. And then Wildstar, as many previous games, has public events, which are hard or impossible to solo, and thus make you quite happy if there are other players around when you want to do them. So designing a MMORPG in which other players are actually an advantage is possible. I just think that developers need to carefully design all the features in the game to check how they are influenced by there being multiple players around. Telling somebody that he failed because somebody else tried the same challenge is a bad idea. Creating situations where players are automatically helpful to each other would be a much better plan.

The Favorites of Selune - Gardmore Abbey - Session 13

In the previous session the Favorites of Selune vanquished the undead mage Vandomar, and recovered his journal for Berrian Velfarren. Now Berrian was able to give them some important information from that journal: The templars of Gardmore Abbey had brought a chaotic artifact from one of their crusades, and stored it in the Hall of Bahamut in the vaults. Berrian suspects that this artifact has something to do with the fall of the abbey, and asks the heroes to investigate. The vaults are one of two dungeons under Gardmore Abbey, accessible either via the barracks or the Hall of Glory. The vaults pre-date the abbey, having been a minotaur temple before the templars arrived. Since the fall of the abbey, minotaurs have moved back in, but so have gnolls. After constant fighting between the minotaurs and the gnolls, a mysterious leader arrived who was able to unite the two tribes.

When discussing what to do next, the group did not go for that obvious choice, the vaults. Instead they remembered that they had never finished the other dungeon under the abbey, the catacombs. They had cleared that dungeon, but had run away on facing the "end boss", a human who apparently was creating and controlling undead. Feeling more powerful (after a recent level up), the group decided to finish the catacombs first before tackling the vaults.

So the group made a plan of battle on how to enter the large room in which they had previously encountered that "necromancer". But on rushing in the surprise was that the place appeared to be empty. Another surprise was that the ranger who had opened the door got poisoned by a contact poison on the door handle, which hadn't been there on their first visit (which is why they didn't check for traps). So they all went into the room, which was full of sarcophagi. And after they had all moved, the sarcophagi closest to the doors, and thus right next to several of the characters, opened and released five vampire spawn undead. And from the other side of the room, the "necromancer" (who turned out to be an evil cleric), a vampire, and a basilisk rushed forward from hiding to attack the group.

The vampire spawn mobs were just minions, and quickly dispatched. Then the heroes made a probably wise decision to concentrate on the basilisk first. The wizard dazed the basilisk, and the warrior marked him, so the basilisk never got around to launch his area of effect poison attack, and died two rounds later. The vampire did some damage to the sorceress, but was the next to go down. The evil cleric was the toughest opponent, and caused the most problems, stunning several characters with an area attack. Although this wasn't their first "boss fight" in Gardmore Abbey, it was the first time where the group properly realized that the bosses in this place who had cards from the Deck of Many Things had some degree of control over those cards. The cleric had three cards, and used all three of them over the duration of the combat to good effect. But ultimately the Favorites of Selune prevailed, and got the three cards as well as a vampiric dagger from the vampire.

At that point I had expected them to discuss the cards from the Deck of Many Things, and how to control them. But instead they decided to go straight for the vaults. They chose to enter via the Halls of Glory, where they encountered the group of rival adventurers again, which they had already met three times (or rather seen signs of once, and actually met two times). As the previous encounter with the rivals had ended with the Favorites of Selune threatening the rivals to leave the abbey "or else", the group felt justified to now be true to their word and they attacked the rivals without further negotiation.

Now the rivals had obviously just been in a fight, and killed some spiders, so the group thought they would be in a good tactical position. But then they rolled somewhat low on initiative, except for the ranger, who did some serious ranged damage to the rival's wizardess. But the Favorites of Selune were all grouped together in the entryway, and to their surprise got attacked by the rival's drow rogue from behind. The drow had powers to make himself invisible, and thus was able to strike with great efficiency against the ranger and the wizard. Then the rival's "tank" warrior attacked from the front, making entry into the room difficult. And the rival's wizardess hit most of the heroes with a fireball.

At this point the sorceress came up with the idea to cast a dark cloud between the two groups, blocking line of sight. The cloud also damaged the rival's tank. The idea was to be able to concentrate on that tank and the drow, but the plan didn't work out like that. On being attacked the drow made himself invisible and teleported away, while the tank moved back through the cloud and into the room. So the Favorites of Selune found themselves with absolutely no target in sight, and in disagreement about what to do next. The sorceress was afraid that if she stopped maintaining that dark cloud, the group would be hit by a barrage of prepared attacks from their rivals. The wizard proposed to run away. But the cleric and the warrior had already used some of their strong daily powers to buff themselves for combat, and didn't want to completely reset the fight. With the Hall of Glory being partially ruined and missing its roof in parts, it seemed impossible to contain the rivals there while resting. So they needed to work out a plan on how to continue the fight from here. And as it was getting late, we decided to stop at that point.

Monday, April 21, 2014
My Wildstar Easter weekend experience

This Easter weekend was a Wildstar beta weekend, which Wildstar does instead of an open beta. Now the first thing to say about this specific weekend is that technically it was a step back: Carbine had done a complete overhaul of the user interface, and the UI 2.0 still has some bugs and issues. Friday I even had some crashes to desktop, but that was fixed by a patch by Saturday. But there are still visible bugs like the "do you want to use this mount/taxi yes or no?" window only showing the yes and no button, but missing the rest of the window. Or messages not disappearing, or old, wrong, message flashing up again. Or the datachron automatically popping back up every time you minimize it. At the start I was even missing my quest tracker. And weirdly enough I was able to fix that by using a /command from World of Warcraft: /reloadui. I don't like to call Wildstar a "WoW clone", but under the hood there are some surprising similarities in the engine of the two games.

So this weekend I played my warrior and medic to level 15, and then started an esper, which I probably will finish at a similar level today. One surprise in that experience was that the esper turned out to be a more suitable healer class for me than the medic. Better flow in combat, with and without the use of self-healing. The warrior remains my choice of main, but at this point esper would be my second choice. I also did a detailed comparison of my preferred two paths: Settler and explorer. And I decided to go explorer, even if some of the jumping puzzles can be annoying. I never found out how to get up that tower in Exo Site N22 in Celestion, even after going a long way around and climbing a different tower with flowing green platforms, which for me were impossible to jump to. The settler path has more useful perks, like buffs and better path powers, but the path missions are all kind of boring. Explorer is less useful, but more fun.

By playing the different classes I learned a lot about the Wildstar combat system. The good news is that you don't need to be a circle-strafing, mouse-turning twitch gamer to play Wildstar. In fact, much of that action combat system is fake. If you think that your superior movement skills will enable you to dodge all mob attacks, you are in for a bad surprise. The monster standard damage will always hit you and can't be moved away from. Movement helps against the "telegraphed" special attacks, but a well-timed interrupt achieves pretty much the same without the need to move. If you are old school and just stand there and do your spell rotation, you will still do fine, provided you have a good spell rotation.

I much improved my spell rotation after realizing something important about the so-called "innate" ability, which is the only ability you can't select or change or modify on your hotkey bar, it is fixed to the "R" key. For some reason, probably as an experience from other games, I had thought of that as a get-out-of-jail ability to be used sparingly. But it turns out that the cooldown is only 30 seconds, so there is really no good reason not to use it in every fight. As that innate ability often replenishes your resource bar, using it at the right time in your spell rotation makes a huge difference to your damage output.

At level 14 in Wildstar you get player housing. That turns out to be a huge money-sink, which probably is a good design decision. To be precise, you don't just get a house, you get a whole floating island in the sky of which the house is the central part. That house can be decorated, and some of the decoration adds to the rate at which you gain rest xp. But for me the house wasn't actually the more interesting part of your floating island. Because there are 4 smaller and 2 larger other plots on your island, and you can do other useful stuff with those. You can decorate them with FAB kits you find, or you can put things like gardens there, where you can plant seeds and harvest them. Or you can have a plot on which mineral nodes spawn. Or a crafting station. All very useful.

For crafting I also changed my mind. I originally wanted to go armorsmith with my warrior. But it turns out that all the tradeskills that make gear are money sinks. Even if you spent hours gathering resources, you still need bought resources to make gear, and the cost of the bought resources is higher than the selling price of the gear. I like the system where you can choose for yourself what stats your crafted items should have, but for a first tradeskill for a first character when money is still tight that is not such a good idea. So I will go relic hunter / technologist. Most of the potions and buffs you can make with that combo are much less useful than crafted gear. But you can craft a lot of stuff without bought components. If at the end of the day you craft all your found resources into potions and sell those, you will make money. As I found money to be tight in Wildstar, at least while the economy is young, that is how I will start out.

Overall the beta weekend left me content that I have pre-ordered the game, and with a much better idea what I want to play and how to play it. Can't wait for release, but that is still 6 weeks ahead.

Thursday, April 17, 2014
Wildstar beta weekend plans

I have a long weekend before me, 4-day Easter weekend. Which happens to coincide with a Wildstar beta weekend. Now I don't want to play the beta too much and then get bored on release. But I do want to use the beta weekends to make some decisions on my release main. The last beta weekend already helped me to decide to go warrior as a class, and this weekend I'm trying to decide on a path.

Now the path decision for me is between settler and explorer, after having tried all four paths in the low levels. The scientist path is for people who like to read all those lore books in games like Skyrim, but I was never that interested in game lore. Call me a snob, but in my experience the writing in games isn't all that great, even if you compare it to "pulp fiction" fantasy novels like Conan the Barbarian. And if you have to find the lore in bits and pieces, you're usually missing half of the picture. I also tried the soldier path, but the "extra" activity of the path was way too similar to what I was doing already all day long when questing.

In the low levels I did like the settler path, because it is a bit like a scavenger hunt with picking up resources everywhere. But at level 10 I realized I would want a resource gathering tradeskill, and so now I wonder if all that gathering isn't again going to be too much of the same. I was more skeptical of the explorer path at first, because I am not a huge fan of jumping puzzles in MMORPGs. But I played an explorer to level 10 and there were some cool parts like being able to run along specially marked explorer flags to get huge speed boosts. At least the flags were marked with an explorer symbol, so I assume other paths can't use those. I assume the trampoline mushrooms are useable by everybody.

So what I am going to do this weekend is mainly to play my level 10 warrior / settler some more, maybe up to where you get housing, and do all the settler path missions I come across. Then I'll see if there is a bit more variety there than just gathering resources for building buff stations. I hope that after a few more levels I will be able to decide whether settler is the path I really want to play in the long term.

Monday, April 14, 2014
Tyranny of Dragons in the marketing department

So 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons will be out this year, and a bit like a World of Warcraft pre-expansion patch there is a huge D&D marketing campaign in the build-up to the release, called Tyranny of Dragons. If you are playing D&D in any sort of "official" setting, you'll be fighting the Cult of the Dragon. So far, so good.

But if you want to see an example of how heavy-handed it can get if you want to move an existing campaign onto the current marketing train, you don't need to go further than PAX East, where Acquisitions Incorporated played their public D&D game. I found the introduction of the Cult of the Dragon rather badly done. The DM had to bend the rules quite a lot to give the enemies a surprise round, because the narrative didn't even talk of an immediate ambush. The heroes walk out of a tavern, there are guys standing there, so from that point on, if a combat breaks out, why would anybody have a surprise round? And don't tell me that the DM didn't fudge dice there to get to that neat situation where everybody but the group leader was down before anybody could act.

So, yes, I understand the requirements of the marketing department to introduce their new material. But they way they did it really wasn't elegant. It sure served the purpose of establishing the Cult as "the enemy", but as I player I would have felt railroaded there.

Saturday, April 12, 2014
Weekend recommendation

Blackguards is on sale on Steam for $19.99. I've been playing for several hours yesterday, and found the game quite interesting. Definitively not for everybody, because the turn-based hex tactical combat is hard, and character creation and development system is even harder. But every single battle in the game is carefully set up, and frequently has special conditions that make each fight quite unique. And the character system allows for any weird combination you can think of, for example my main character is an archer with healing spells and buffs.

Be warned that this is not a casual game. Also, depending on how you skill your characters you can easily end up with having taken too many abilities with too low scores, which will then make combat feel rather random, as you only hit half of the time. Concentrating on a few things fixes that. Overall an excellent game if you love turn-based tactical fantasy combat and don't mind having to think while you play.

Friday, April 11, 2014
How important is the character creation tool for you?

In a first-person view game, you don't see your character at all, or at best his arms. In a third-person view game your character is on the screen all the time, but you only see him from the back, and usually you are concentrated on what is in front of him. Only in more passively controlled games, like The Sims, do you really get a good look at your character. So when I was reading about the incredible character creation tool of Black Desert, a Korean MMORPG, I wondered whether that was really so important to MMORPG players. Yes, you can modify individual strands of hair of your avatar in that game, but isn't all that detail ultimately lost when playing the game? Have a look at the final characters in that video: After hours of creation you end up with a bunch of same-ish looking people.

That isn't to say that you can't make good character creation tools in MMORPGs. City of Heroes was exemplary in that you could make very different looking characters with the tools provided. But in that case the costume was part of the creation process, while in many other MMORPGs the look of your armor depends on the gear you found. As clothes make out a major part of your look, the character creation tool in those games is then often full of sliders which don't do much. Do you want your nose to be a centimeter longer, or your cheek bones a bit higher? Or do you simply not care, because once he is in the game, nobody is going to notice those minute details on your character?

Games like World of Warcraft or Wildstar at least have a wide variety of very different looking races on offer. Nobody is going to confuse your pink pigtailed gnome with your troll, or your chua with your mechari. Other games, like Black Desert or The Elder Scrolls Online, stick to humans, and that limits how different two characters can look from each other. As long as your character isn't wearing a helmet, hair style and color is still quite a visible difference. But the length of your eyelashes or diameter of your biceps you took hours to plan in detail risks to be completely unnoticeable to the world.

What do you think about character creation tools in MMORPGs? Should we have a detailed one like Black Desert has in all of our games? Or would you rather have less options, but more visible differences between characters?


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