Thursday, September 9, 2010

Everybody looks the same

So finally we have the much announced Operation: Gnomeregan and Zalazane's Fall events on live servers. They're fun to play (until you repeat it for the 3rd time in a row), using the same phasing technology as the Wrathgate event and the Battle for Undercity. So far is almost the same as Battle for the Undercity (at least Operation: Gnomeregan, I still haven't played Zalazane's fall with my belf but I expect a simmilar event): after some minor quests you participate in a massive battle with huge buffs so you hit hard and you never die (unless you stray far away from Mekkatorque and lose the healingbuff). There's a lot of pew pew and everything blows up in the end. You get the feature of strength and everybody's happy.
Everybody? Sure? Well, not me, at least completely happy. If you check your bags you'll see a blue object that transforms you into a Gnomeregan Infantry soldier (that you get from a previous quest, this object is available to everybody from level 5 up)... and a white cloak. Yes, a cloak, not an overcloak as it was announced and present in the test servers.
Dude, where's my overcloak?
No trace of it, just a white quality cape with the Gnomeregan crest (if you're Horde you'll get the Darkspear Troll version). What's going on here? We have the answer in this blue post:
It is true that the cloak rewards had overcloak functionality when these events were up on the public test realms some months back. In the end we decided that implementing the cloaks in such a way that players could aesthetically change the cloak they're wearing could set a bad precedent. We like customization and flavor items, but we don't want to start implementing aesthetic items in the game which allow players to look however they want while keeping all the stats they want. We felt the overcloaks were breaking that barrier a little too much. 
Excuse me?In a game like WoW, the way you look sometimes is as important as the stats on your gear, even more if you're in an RP server. Not only that, when it came out, it promised you to customize the way you look beyond the typical hari color and facial hair. Even when reforging was announced I expected you could also alter the colours aside the stats. So again people asked why in the same thread and this was the answer:
We've been tossing around some other ideas with regard to gear customization, but we still want to make sure there are appropriate limitations on a system like this. The limited buff timer on the overcloak just wasn't enough considering it would mask any cloak of any level. We'll continue to explore ideas for fun aesthetic gear customization, but we didn't feel this was the proper introduction of this kind of system. 
Two words in one: bullshit. What's the problem with masking the cloak you're wearing in a game where you can hide it and where everybody (even opposite faction) can inspect you? It's like you're trying to hide that blue cloak to enter an ICC raid?. Simply you can't, you're going to be inspected or worse: passed through GearScore. And what's wrong with displaying an altered version of the cloak you're wearing? I understand there can be some minor technical issues since not all cloaks have the same length or even use the same rectangular model, but that shouldn't be hard to fix.
Something I've commented before in this blog: it would be great you could at least decide colours in the gear you craft. Remember the green iron gear? Why green? Why don't allow people to buy whatever dye they like and use it to craft pink iron bracers or black iron helm? Technical limitations? Not really, we have the same item model in quite an array of colours already. Just an example: Green Iron Helm. Now click in the "Same model as" tab. Forty-five items. Forty-five frickin' items from green to epic quality, all in different colours: yellow, red, black, blue... Even items from an expansion with a particular model have made comebacks in next expansion with a different texture/colour pattern. So why don't allow people dress as they like? One of the best things games like Quake have is that you can use any model for your character. As long as the opposite players had the same model stored in their harddisk they would see you as you decided (otherwise the default player model is shown). This wouldn't be a problem with WoW since everybody has the same item models in their harddisk.
Now what?
Blizz says they're exploring ideas for customization, but to me that sounds they will develop this if they can get some cash like they did with the pets and pony. If people is willing to pay for a mount and they already pay for a racial change (that lets you customize your character's image from start), adding the "Azeroth Paint Shop: We Pimp Ya Epicz Up" looks like the next step. And we can thank the barber only costs in-game gold.
This may seem a rant too big for such a minor issue and probably you're right, but what really ticked me off was the poor excuses given and this sensation that they don't want us to stray out of a line everybody must follow so we all look the same. If you're an old player just compare how people looked at level 60 and how people looks now at level 80.
Also if they didn't want to implement overcloaks a better reward would be a tabard (like they did with the Dark Portal opening event, even if they used the same existing Argent Dawn tabard, but they added that holy nova-like effect) than just a shitty white cloak nobody's going to wear.


  1. I want emblems to wear on top of my tabard: little medals of honor for various achievement. WARhammer had that, that was a cool idea.
    This boring cloak no-one will use, is not a cool idea.

  2. I haven't done the event thing yet and seen that cloak for myself. But I agree that that answer is lame to say the least. You might be right that they're just waiting to make it into a RMT service. :(

  3. Hm, I didn't even know about this, I was just happy to get a cute roleplaying cloak. Reading this, I'm actually positively excited - while I agree that their reasoning for not implementing this overcloak thing right now makes little sense, I now know that they are actually thinking about how to implement cosmetic gear changes in earnest. I don't think they'd make it a paid service either, it's simply one of those things that other, newer games have already implemented very well and where WoW actually has to play catch-up.