The Daily Grind: Which MMO has the biggest homogeneity problem with outfits?

    
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Flexin'

Every MMO has a certain upper limit on how many different outfits you can come up with. That’s just the reality. And some games are really bad about this; for the longest time World of Warcraft had exactly four models used for gloves, and every new pair of gloves was just one of those four models with a different texture, resulting in a game where the actual shape of your outfit remained pretty much the same no matter what.

But it’s not as if every other game has no identical pieces. Most of your outfit options in Secret World Legends are some variant on shirt-and-pants casual clothing. Bree has complained about how many new armor sets in Guild Wars 2 follow the same basic template with an open-fronted combat skirt trailing behind you. There’s no scenario in Fallout 76 when you won’t look like a Mad Max extra, with your options mainly coming down to which thrift store you scavenged before signing on with Immortan Joe.

None of this means that these games don’t give you control over your outfits, but it does mean that there’s a certain amount of homogeneity within those outfits. So today’s question is what game makes that the biggest problem. Which MMO do you find has the most homogeneous looks?

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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Fenrir Wolf

Gosh, this is a really good question! I like this question. It’s fun being challenged. Thank you!

I think to examine this I’d have to look at it from the other side, first. Which has the most heterogeneity and allows for the most expression. There would be a number of contenders, here, not least of which being the City of Heroes/Villains games.

I think Champions Online handily takes the crown when it comes to allowing players the greatest degree of personal, individual expression, though. Especially since they turned off the clipping rules, which we’d all been telling them to do since the beta. And they finally listened, years later!

It’s difficult to conceive of just how many pieces of an appearance can be thrown together in how many different configurations. I’m always finding new, interesting ways to be creative by layering pieces and colouring them very carefully. There’s a sort of zen appeal to it.

And they always seem to have new costume packs, always more, ever more; and I buy them all up like a shameless–well, I most certainly do buy them. I find myself wistfully ruminating upon how MMOs would look if Cryptic licensed out their creator along with all the various costume pieces it now has. It’d be interesting to see what other MMOs could do with this technology.

Some of my fondest memories are from that game. And, funnily enough, one of my favourite characters ended up being this throwaway joke/meme character I did for laughs. A clockpunk pirate werebear. Everything about his aesthetic was so perfect, I just fell in love with him.

I had to know what made him tick. Since, after all, he literally ticked.

Champions was a delight. Upbeat, cheesy, ludicrous… and the only game where you’ll ever hear the general of a paramilitary organisation lament over how an American military base is too grey and lacking in purple drapes.

I’m sure I’ve brought that up before, but it’s one of my favourite lines in the game.

If I hadn’t played out the game entirely and gotten so tired of it, I’d still be there. And I do still go back to create characters. So let’s take that as an example of the opposite end of the spectrum.

What really separates Champions Online from other experiences though is — and only the transhumanists in the audience will be familiar with this term — the morphological freedom. It wasn’t simply just the clothes that made the person, but the underlying shapes, too, and how they moved!

You can use the shapes and animation of a body to really differentiate clothes that even another character might be wearing. So to really exemplify homogeneity we’d have to look at games which had only human characters and not much in the way of body sliders. So everyone would have the same build.

It wouldn’t be like Team Fortress, everyone would have to have a nearly identical silhouette. So — as much as we like to pick on WoW — that’s WoW out! Or any MMO that has races or good body sliders.

The Secret World really is a strong contender here, isn’t it? As much as I loved its narrative, characters, lore, history, and other assorted whatnots (which were usually delivered by bees just to make everything just that extra bit more odd)? I have to admit that I felt very restrained and constricted in The Secret World. I didn’t enjoy being my character.

Frankly, it felt uncomfortable. I played TSW in spite of my character, not because of them. It was a stark opposite of Champions Online.

Sprite-based games can also be cited as an example of this as they would often just have one race with one build. Early Ultima Online before they added gargoyles and the likes would fit into this mould. As would titles in the vein of Tibia, Ragnarok Online, and so on.

I do agree though that The Secret World was by far and wide the worst offender. I think even with its limited ensemble of armours and robes, early Ultima Online still had more in the way of clothing options and… that’s sad. That’s really, really sad.

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Maggie May

There’s nothing like FFXIV at early levels … Subligar anyone??

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Fenrir Wolf

It really shouldn’t surprise me that FF XIV — of all games — has further homogeneity problems. I mean, I know that the races, world, and lore are all creatively lacking compared to their predecessor… but the clothing, too? Come on, Square-Enix.

hurbster
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hurbster

ESO can be limiting if you don’t like those flappy things the devs decided should be on the hips of most armour types.

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socontrariwise

You know what the biggest homogeneity problem in my eyes is? Male avatars with competent looking equipment and clothes and female ones that have only or mostly extra skimpy “I am a sex object, ignore functionality” items.

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Bannex

Yeah I’ve seen this argument a lot but the vast majority of female gamers I come across in mmos have their avatars in ultra skimpy attire.

Im always shocked with the amount of discussion about boobs and butts I hear on discord by female gamers in reference to their characters.

I bet if they did away with skimpy clothing in mmos you’d see equal amounts of disappointment from both sides.

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Yaner

As a female player I’d have to agree with Bannex. I personally enjoy the less conservative armors. Games basically let you wear what you want without fear of someone bothering you in real life, or needing to worry about self-esteem. It’s a game so you are free to be how you please and not need to worry about it.

(Plus I like looking at my character’s butt too, what of it? lol)

mosselyn
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mosselyn

Well I don’t dress mine in skimpy clothing.

Regardless, elimination would be a mistake, IMO. Choice is key. You should be able to choose skimpy. Or not skimpy.

My personal exasperation arises in games that do a poor job of balancing between the two, usually by leaning heavily on the skimpy.

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Maggie May

Actually the ones in the most sexualized outfits are often guys playing female characters, because well t&a, elf butts etc …. as a female I do both depending on the overall look of the gear not nessessarily the coverage.

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Bannex

You literally just said that it’s most often men and then proceeded to say that you do too sometimes…

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Fenrir Wolf

@Bannex

Often, not “most often.” How is this confusing when weighed against “sometimes?”

Sexy Outfits – Worn by:
Men — 60% of the time;
Women — 20% of the time.

Conclusion: Sexy outfits on women are generally preferred by men, but some can be enjoyed by women depending on the aesthetic.

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Bannex

You’ve got numbers to back up that claim? What if it’s 50/50?

What if the only female avatars I play are in the game for honor and those women are far from sexy. Am I automatically in the minority because you feel like men must enjoy scantily clad women more than women.

Go ahead and ignore Vogue, Cosmo, snapchat, Victoria’s secret catalogues and well almost all fashion and social media and magazines targeted to women.

My claim is that women enjoy skimpy clothing on female avatars and in all honesty probably in the same capacity as men who play female characters based on my personal experience in games. Neither of us have solid numbers so please refrain from posting your “feels like” numbers.

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Fenrir Wolf

@Bannex

I don’t think that’s the problem, nor the problem indicated by the post you’re replying to. This is a matter of empathy for people who deserve choices. The ideal scenario is to have an equal amount of valid and readily available armours of both practical and skimpy types for both genders.

If they can’t get that right, then erring on the side of realistic armours for both genders is better as that at least offers a greater sense of equality.

Ultimately, though, a player should never feel forced to represent as a more prudish or slutty person through their clothing, however they dress should be their own choice. This is something that games like Champions Online got very right.

Edit: Mosselyn beat me to the punch on this point, so consider this signal-boosting of their point. Choice is always key.

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Bannex

I never said there shouldn’t be a choice.

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Bannex

I think you’re better off giving up the desire for comprehensive representation in video games. While I understand that this is a little off base from the skimpy vs not skimpy debate, you have to admit that not everybody’s preferences HAVE to be present in every video game nor should they.

Where do you draw the inclusion line? Why can’t my characters wear a cross, a hijab or a kippah? What if my toon is trans?

So we have a huge debate on our hands here that doesn’t stop at skimpy. The fact of the matter is that games take place in a free market if there was a sudden influx of demand for burkas in video games you can bet EA would be all over it but the fact of the matter remains, The vast majority of gamers still prefer the slutmog.

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Fenrir Wolf

It’s a shame that due to bigotry surrounding body imagery, we can’t be fat in most games. As mad as I am at ESO for jumping the shark, the ESO that I loved allowed one to create surprisingly chubby characters. I will miss that.

No MMO yet though has dared to do fat because you have to appeal to bigots I suppose, even though looking at historical evidence most knights were muscleguts, and on the more portly side.

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Toy Clown

GW2 – For the longest time I was upset that every medium outfit had the same butt-cape function and that there were no pants for light armors. Over time, I think they fixed some of that disparity, but it’s the biggest reason why I created a Ranger and Necromancer, clones of one character so that I had access to both wardrobe sets when I RPd.

FFXIV – In general, the game has lots of choices, but when it comes to healers and ranged casters, they get the same sets most of the time. It’s frustrating to see a new dungeon set released, only to see healer and caster is YET AGAIN the same except for color.

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Ben Stone

SWTOR, the same crappy robes over and over.

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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

SWTOR shoulder pads were(haven’t played in 5+ years)hilarious. Agree with a previous poster that GW2 medium armor and ArenaNet’s unwillingness to mix it up was awful.

I want to see a game where players and NPC’s wear the same stuff. In BDO, players don’t look like they even live in the world they are running around in at all. I ask for fast travel in that game and people rage that it would break immersion and then I just laugh and laugh and all is right in the world again.

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Eboni

EQ2. Everything looks the freaking same, just different textures. Unless its from the cash shop. Then it looks a little better. Although you can get a bit more colorful over the holidays.

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Fenrir Wolf

True, but the immense racial diversity of that game means that clothing can look very different from person to person. So whilst it’s not a great example, it’s still one that has at least some degree of visual variety.

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Danny Smith

I literally cannot remember a single armour set from Guild Wars 2 or Rift. Its all just white noise.

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socontrariwise

Really? I have so many different looking equipment sets in Rift and never entirely decided which one to give a spin. Currently prefer the venetian hat and face mask and this slightly egyptian looking armor with the spiked shoulderpad on one side. Wrapped leather for the legs. I love how creative you can be in Rift when it comes to looks, beats even ESO in my opinion.

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styopa

It’s a pretty fine line to walk, between aesthetic consistency and dull homogeneity.
I mean TBC is still a meme for characters looking like bozo the clown-warrior with giant purple shoulders, blaze orange pants, a blue helmet and green torso.

Further, I think some art departments (GW2 I’m looking at you) mistake meticulous detailing with interesting design.
I think SWL is actually pretty good, considering they can just randomly open a Macy’s catalog for design ideas; I wish more glamour pieces were available as quest rewards, though.

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Fenrir Wolf

This confuses me. You don’t need to rely on homogeneity to provide for an all-around cohesive aesthetic. Look at super-hero Universes as but one example, it’s clear if you’ve ever watched a Marvel film or read a comic book that this isn’t the case.

Homogeneity happens as a result of laziness, nothing more. You can be as creative as you want and still work in clever links to keep all of your wildly diverse aesthetic cohesive.