The Daily Grind: How much do aesthetics impact your playstyle choices in an MMO?

    
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We all live in a potentially messy world.

How your character looks affects your enjoyment of an MMO. This is almost a tautology; you spent time in the character creator, obviously, so you have some investment. But I think it goes beyond even that. Some of our playstyle choices come down as much to what looks cool and feels neat from a visual standpoint as it does with any other considerations. Give the exact same mechanics to a different set of visuals and people will often feel differently, even if the actual play is the same; witness the number of people in World of Warcraft with strong feelings about which Hunter spec got a gun and which one got a bow, even when the mechanics are functionally identical.

Every game has certain choices that look particularly cool – enormous capital ships in EVE Online, Red Mages in Final Fantasy XIV, several Elite specs in Guild Wars 2. There’s an obvious effort to make these things look cool, first and foremost, often to the point of enticing people who otherwise might not play with these particular options. So what about you, dear readers? How much do aesthetics impact your playstyle choices in an MMO?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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Zen Dadaist

While it’s not the most important aspect of a game for me, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care about aesthetics. No – the look and feel of the game has to match how it plays. And I have to be able to stand the look, not to mention be able to discern exactly what I’m looking at…

(This is why I put up with the New Engine related client/server desynchs and hangs in Anarchy Online, and use workarounds ot avoid the areas in which this happens – I really cannot go back to the indistinguishable muddy pixel mess of the old one.)

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jay

Very much influenced by graphic and animation design. I would like to say a deep game system can make up for poor animations or graphics, but my games history days otherwise.

I loved the lore, quests, systems etc in tsw ; but quit the game after a week of play due to boredom worn the combat animations. I returnef for legends, thinking “they must have realized how many of us were driven of by this, and fixed it by now”, but nope. Redid the combat systems, but kept the same craptastc animations.

This is also why I could never play EVE regardless of all the great things I’ve heard about it, and why I also will most likely not play pantheon, unless the graphics get monumentally better

Polyanna
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Polyanna

Imperial Sorcerer was my favorite class in SWTOR because lightning. Fast forward five years to ESO, and my main is . . . Lightning Staff Sorcerer. Go figure. Giant bolts of electricity are the formula for fun in any universe.

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Cypher

That’s the same as asking “How much does writing style affect your enjoyment of a book?”
If thats the way the world you’re being asked to ‘visit is being represented, then it’s pretty much be all and end all. Doesnt have to be flashy, but it must represent the world well and be believable (within the boundaries of genre norms of course).

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David Goodman

It matters as much as any other facet does, pretty equally, because it’s part of the presentation of the overall game to me.

A game can have beautiful graphics but an aesthetic style that’s inconsistent or doesn’t match the art (in an obviously non-deliberate way), it won’t look good to me, and it will impact my view of the game in terms of how I like it overall.

I look at gameplay differently in most cases — unless you have a class called “Gunslinger” and they have a bow skill tree, I’m really not looking at them in the same way. That’s why most reviews have different categories for art and gameplay if they do that kinda thing :)

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Steely Bob

no impact, no impact whatsoever… all i care about is gameplay.

Alex Js.
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Alex Js.

That largely depends on a game, for example if the game has more “cartoony” art style with pretty low amount of details (for characters/objects) and pretty low-res textures then it doesn’t really matter to me how my character or all of the gear/clothes looks like. Same goes if the game uses pretty depressing, desaturated color palette for everything (like ESO). Or if the game is usually played in a way where it’s very hard to notice certain aesthetical improvements – like EVE online, where most of the time is spent on looking at your scanner overlay, Market browser or corp/local chat window and almost nobody ever cares to zoom in to your ship close enough to notice some fancy skin. In games like these I absolutely don’t care how my character (or ship/vehicle) looks like, in some other games I do care.

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Robert Mann

Some. As in, if a game has something that bugs me it can be an issue, but I also look at people who are so hyper-focused on combat animations and the like and just sigh. Because, to be honest, part of the problem with gaming is eyecandy. As in, everything else taking a back seat to trying to put forth stupid graphics levels.

I’m also not as much a fan of high amounts of stylized work. A light stylized system, or realistic graphics without the hyper-focus… neither bug me at all.

I like customization, but until there’s enough options and a reason to actually get to know people and/or care in games, well. Yeah, I don’t notice it right now with other people. I’d be happy to see games start looking at ways to bring make-up/fashion contests into the game in an interesting way (and not just random selection of people participating, for example.)

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

I value aesthetics and I measure aesthetics within a broader context than just the visual, but I’ll admit to being unforgiving of an MMO that isn’t visually appealing to me. In fact, I’m pretty ho-hum about any MMO that isn’t taking advantage of wide landscapes and far horizons. I’m bored with maps designed like rat mazes scaled for third-person view.

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Fervor Bliss

Sometimes a great deal. Have done grinds to see a NPC’s outfit and surroundings.
Youtube has made this much easier.