Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Transmogrification and Cosmetic Gear

Well, it looks like I'm the only one, but I don't think cosmetic gear is a good idea.

I talked a bit about this in 2007. Your character model is on screen for 99% of the time. It's the one constant in your WoW experience. I think the game is better served by having that model gradually change over time. I wore T4, and then upgraded to T5, then so forth.

As seasons change, your character changes in a natural fashion. You look forward to new sets, commiserate with others when sets are weird (honestly, pally T3 and T5?), rejoice with them when they are good. Your character changes as you do things, and your gear reflects your accomplishments.

Gear is tied to a time period, and gear from that time period evokes memories of that time.

Cosmetic gear throws away all that. You find some set of gear that you think looks "cool", and you wear that. Or more accurately, all the teenagers will find the gear that looks the sluttiest and wear that. Yay for raiding with people wearing [Black Mageweave Leggings].

I guarantee that the vast majority of paladins will be wearing T2 Judgement from now until the end of time. Judgement is awesome, I have collected 7/8 T2 and an Ashkandi recently. I consider that to be the high water mark of paladin fashion, and wear it in town on occasion. But its time has come and gone. New tier sets will just not be as exciting as before when everyone wears the best of the old ones.

There are issues with gear art at the moment. There are too many recolors, diminishing the uniqueness of the art. Tier art is reused for off-spec pieces, so everyone looks the same, instead of having Tier sets being instantly recognizable.

But I think those issues could have been solved without cosmetic gear. I think cosmetic gear will prove to be a mistake in the long run. We play these games for a long time, and fashion needs to cycle, to refresh itself with new ideas. Allowing time to stand still, to grow stagnant and ossify, will only hurt WoW.


  1. One thing you seem to ignore is that the majority of the WoW player doesn't have a chance to acquire a "fashion set". Every set is an improvement, if all you have is a mix of purple items from the troll instances and a few raid epics.

    Besides that, this change finally allows them to sell cosmetic gear in their store which isn't pay to win. It could very well be that this is the first preparation towards f2p.

  2. I like the idea as it allows for a character to express a style. Garosh's shoulders are part of this toon's character - and now our personal choices can be too. If having additional choice ends up killing the game, then the player base killed it, and it was time. I don't think serious raiders will care either way, it has a disadvantage for pvp, but all else seems either irrelevant or a boon.

  3. I'm not sure about the the netiquette associated with quoting from blogs, but I've been a lurker for a while and I quoted part of this post in one of my own because I thought your analysis was quite good. I hope this is all right, and I will remove it if requested! :)

  4. I don't know that I could disagree more. To me, when it comes to RPGs, the look of the character is as important as anything. My current second most played MMO is LotRO and I've been completely ho-hum about gear there as I simply don't like the look of most of it. Recently though, with the introduction of the Isengard cosmetic gear(zero stats, only looks!), I finally care about what my characters are wearing.

    With WoW, after getting this feature in LotRO, I really stopped caring about what my gear looked like, because after Shaman T1/T2, it all looked bleh until T4 dropped, but even that didn't come close. And since then, I don't know that I've wanted to wear a single set since.

    I highly doubt that I'm the only person in this situation; Blizzard wouldn't put the resources to it if there wasn't a demand, so while I can appreciate being excited about new gear sets, this is more of a feature for those of us who have stopped being excited about new gear.

  5. Honestly I think this will have a burst of activity in the beginning as the few that will be willing to spend the gold go change thier characters looks.

    Once the initial rush is over, I think you will see this become as much of a non-issue as the barber shop.

    As for myself, I plan to use the feature, but only on my shoulders. I favor the older more practical looking ones as opposed to the giant ugly things with magical air pollution oozing out of them.

  6. I might go for the purple T2 recolor in TBC to be a little different. ;) Realistically though, I think I'm going to always wear a pair of goggles now. It kills me that I'm an engineer but I don't always have a profession headpiece.

  7. As with Dechion, I think this will come and go with fashion. Progression raiders will want to show off their unaltered gear when a tier is new because it is rare. Those that have genuine t3 can show off they were the few that did Naxxramas when it was a 40 man (assuming Blizzard doesn't make unavailable sets obtainable again).

    As far as fashion standing still, how many of us wear blue jeans? Some fashions do stand still for decades.

    In the end, it gives people a choice they can use if they want to give their gear a consistent look when they are in the process of replacing items.

  8. I started composing a response to this myself, but it ended up almost as long as the original post! So I've posted it on my own blog.

    Here's the super short version:
    I'm undecided about this change.
    The void storage is a welcome addition, but the transmogrification thing I'm less sure about.

    My full post is here

  9. This is one I'll disagree with you on. The vast majority of WOW's gear is horrible. I'd happily pay to make druid tier 11 look like tier 1. there are gray warrior sets that look better than some gear.

    Its a simple thing like pets. It will allow blizzard to make money without handing out new gear. And with gear score looking at someone elses gear to see what they are using is not needed or even a thing that brings excitement into the game. That kind've thing died long a go in game.

  10. Maybe gear is a bit too much of a change, but weapons and cloaks seem like a good compromise. Or I just want to be able to use Thunderfury again. Dammit, I did not farm MC for a year for it to rot in a bank!

  11. I wonder though; if every paladin walks around in tier 2 looking gear, will the paladins that assemble their own unique sets be the 'cool' ones? I know one of my first thoughts when I saw this post was that I could make my old BC druid healing set all over again. It was made of only off-set pieces, but I used to get compliments all the time for how good it looked. Since I only healed heroics I wouldn't upgrade some pieces with raid gear just because I liked the look so much.

  12. Although i agree that it very well could be a pandora's box, I love the feature.

    I doubt this will be anything like the barbershop, as you change the gear and not the armor slot. So every time you get an upgrade, you have to change that piece, adn the one constant of wow is new gear upgrades. I see this feature getting heavy use. I'm looking forward to rocking Quel'Delar and T10 again

    The look of the character is of incredible importance to me, you're staring at them for hours on end as you play. I have absolutely hated looking like a space-clown again this expansion with all the mismatched gear in hideously differant colors and styles.

  13. I think you underestimate the creativity of players if you think that "the vast majority of paladins will be wearing T2 Judgement from now until the end of time". People will want their carefully chosen outfits to stand out, and they'll want to change looks occasionally when they get bored of the same old, same old. Fashion will still change, just not purely based on whatever the designers draw up for the next tier of gear, but based on what new combinations players come up with. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw an influx of new fan sites specifically dedicated to compiling information about cosmetic outfits.

  14. While I see your point about future gear design, perhaps this will spur the artists to really pour a lot of time and effort into creating great-looking new tier sets, so that people will *want* to wear the newest stuff. Of course, they could also just mail it in on a couple of sets, but we'll see how it plays out.

  15. I think you make a really good point about one's gear changing like seasons as you move through the game, and how much that affects the character's identity.

    However, more and more all characters of a certain class look the same. Heck, in ToC all characters of the same armor class looked the same! Maybe it's a different color but it seems much more difficult to differentiate your character now with just the gear you use, and that counts for a lot.

  16. If people want to pay in game gold to be able to show off cool looking sets of gear that they still have on them (and thus must mean something to them), then why care? I'm sitting on 75k worth of gold personally and I have ultimately nothing of immediate worth to spend it on. I'd LOVE to be able to wear my shiny T6 in raids like I used to instead of being forced to wear the latest two sets - the last being ok, and the one before that was just blah. I don't understand why so many people are so worked up over this change unless it's from a standpoint of "they could be working on new content rather than a changing room and closet."

    And BTW, I haven't yet heard that comment...

    Also, having used to RP, I think it's an amazing new feature considering many RPers on such servers go out of their way to collect cool looking clothing. It saves on the hassle of always going back to my bank to pull out outfit D and E just to play out a scene.

  17. I agree that cosmetic gear is a bad idea. Not to say that I don't have an awesome set of gear stashed away, but it will take away from the sense of progress of watching characters progress. Less so my own character, as those of the people I raid with. It was interesting watching the skulls of naxx fade away to the sculpted faces of ulduar, to the uniform spikes of ToC, to the skulls of ICC, to the elements of T11, to the Flames of Firelands.

    One thing that I thought about was rift's dye system. I think that would have been a better implementation. Instead of allowing people to outright replace their gear's models, they could have the option to retint them such that remaining peices of T11 don't look so garish against the Firelands gear.

  18. "I don't understand why so many people are so worked up over this change unless it's from a standpoint of "they could be working on new content rather than a changing room and closet."

    I place myself firmly in this camp. Before I quit the game, I was a dedicated holy priest and there is a general consensus that holy priests aren't doing so hot right now. There are a number of things that could stand to be improved with our class and spec. Genuinely improved, too. Rather than address those concerns, they choose to spend their time and energy on this. Excuse me for being a bit bitter about that decision.

    Not only did the choice to invest time and energy into the new appearances upset me, but it was also the response of the player base. I feel like people glossed over the fact that this is essentially the last content patch of Cataclysm. You can finally fight Deathwing, 3 new Heroic 5 mans are coming out... and this is all people could talk about? The fact that something added to the game purely for vanity gets more of a fanfare than genuine content or real updates to the game saddens me.

    It's just all around not good and I really hope that the Deathwing encounter and other more important changes can wrestle back some attention from this frivolous addition to the next patch.

  19. I liked the Liadrin's T9 gear set over the Lightsworn T10 gear by a long shot. Sure, all Pallys looked alike after a while, but to me Paladins wearing skulls simply didn't mix.

    Now, I think that until I get to the Firelands gear set I'll go pull the Liadrin Set out of the bank and wear that in the meantime.

  20. I don't think cosmetic gear is a good idea either.

    The only reason players are clammoring for this feature are one, nostalgia and two, bragging rights. It seems players want a really large visual symbol of "hey, I did this content and you didn't."

    I do understand the nostalgia part, I own several complete old sets which I like looking at from time to time. But you know what, the artwork style and amount of detail in the newer sets is so much better and I find I appreciate them more and more as time goes on. I agree, I want to see the gear recycle and refresh with each patch. Otherwise, what's the point of getting new gear?

    Honestly, I would rather they had spent the resources to update the original character models. That's something that would push the game forward rather than backwards.

  21. @Oestrus
    Please tell me I misunderstood your comment and that you do not honestly believe that the balancing team is the one responsible for programming this feature.

  22. @Anonymous: From what I understand, the process of Transmogrification basically takes the "use this art" for an item and replaces it. Which doesn't seem terribly complex.

    Updating the character models is a COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY SEPARATE PROCESS. And probably requires vastly more resources.

    That being said, I wouldn't be surprised to see them updated for the next expansion.

  23. I can understand your position on this as a long time raider - in your shoes I might well say the same.

    But look at it from my position - I started playing in Wrath (for a brief period) then re-started in earnest with Cata. My shaman went from quest greens to quest/drop blues to (in terms of generation) T11 jp armor.

    Before the announcement of this, I always lamented how much amazing content and particularly armor art I had missed out of over the years - 10 tiers of it. I had already started on my quest to acquire interesting old weapons and gear, sparked by finding Breeching Comet in heroic MgT. Transmogrification rewards me for this hobby, and unlocks the full catalogue of amazing art for all to enjoy.

    Maybe the idea of me, someone who didn't play during Teir 2, wearing Ten Storms sullys the memory of it for those of you who were there. But I've always been albe to acquire and wear the gear - now there's actually going to be other people who will seek it out with me. For a collector like me, this is validation of one of my primary enjoyments in the game.