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Loading... September 30th, 2010 - Kick in the Dye

Updated Thu, Sep 30, 2010 by Sardu

Loading... is the premiere daily MMOG newsletter, only from Ten Ton Hammer!

Welcome to the 1,430th edition of Loading...

It’s hard to feel like an epic warrior of righteousness or dastardly purveyor of evil when your characters look like dirty hobos in mismatched gear. At the same time, players typically want at least some means of expressing originality rather than looking like just another sardine shoved into the MMOG can. Some titles address both sides of the issue by incorporating cosmetic items into the mix, while still others allow you to mix and match dyes to come up with a look that’s uniquely your own. But it can also lead to disastrous results when you bank the success of your game on the cosmetic side of itemization alone. We’ll take a look at current examples of each of these approaches today in Loading… Kick in the Dye.

The Pulse

You vote with what you view at Ten Ton Hammer, and the result is the Ten Ton Pulse (What is The Pulse?).

Today's top 5 Pulse results:

  1. World of Warcraft
  2. EverQuest 2 
  3. Lord of the Rings Online (UP 1)
  4. EVE Online (down 1)
  5. Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures 

Biggest movers today:

  1. Guild Wars 2
    - UP 5 to #10
  2. Myst Online: URU Live
    - down 5 to #17
  3. Star Trek Online
    - Up 4 to #12
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World of Warcraft: Brewfest Tankard O' Terror Contest
October is just around the corner, so you know what that means. It’s that festive time once again when we get to raise or virtual tankards in World of Warcraft in celebration of the annual in-game Brewfest event! To help get you into the spirit (or should that be spirits?) of the event, we’ll be giving away not just one, but two signed Tankard O’ Terror’s from Taverncraft. For full contest details be sure to race your ram over to our Brewfest Tankard O’ Terror Contest page!

Enter now as the contest ends on Friday, October 1st at 11:59pm!
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Loading... Grinding out the next level to get that mount!


Itemization plays a major role in the long term enjoyment of an MMOG for a lot of players. Some titles are so sharply focused on progressive gear grinds that players will run the same content countless times all for adding a trivial boost to their character’s core stats. This is certainly the case in World of Warcraft where, by and large, the entire endgame experience boils down to gameplay types that offer different paths to obtaining new gear. Be it raising reputations, running instances and raids, or even PvP game types, the entire reward structure is based on players’ desire to obtain shiny new things for their characters.

While this approach obviously works for endgame content, over the years certain developers have banked on allowing players to feel epic from the start by adding incredibly robust customization tools to the character creation process. Considering the nature of the settings, this approach has been a natural fit for games like City of Heroes and Champions Online. But even in those titles players still crave some form of enhancements for characters that helps separate the vets from the newly hatched heroes or villains.

Banking too much of your game’s success on cosmetic itemization can also prove disastrous which I feel played a major contributing factor in the recent demise of APB. I’ve gone to enough industry conventions and fan events this year to take note of the fact that gamers really aren’t the most fashion conscious people out there. So while the customization options in APB were second to none, I still feel that had there been more than cosmetic options linked to itemization in the game it might have been a much more successful venture straight out of the gates.

Personally though, I’m all for tools and systems that bridge the gap between the two extremes and offer more of a “best of both worlds” scenario. In other words, keep power progression tied to itemization but then offer players the ability to adjust the actual look of their character by other means should they so choose. Sure, wearing the absolute best available gear for your class gives players certain bragging rights, but no one really enjoys looking like an MMO hobo on the way there.

EverQuest II and Lord of the Rings Online have the right idea by letting players equip purely cosmetic items to attain a specific look for their characters. A good example of this can be seen in Gunky’s recent roundup of the newest fall fashions in Middle Earth. The beauty of these items is that they’re just as well crafted visually as the best dungeon gear, but at the same time since the cosmetic items aren’t linked to stat progression in any way they’re entirely optional and have no other direct impact on your gameplay experience.

The only real downside to cosmetic armors is that it can be nearly impossible to differentiate between character classes at a glance. This can really be an annoyance in PvP or even open world PvE scenarios. Armor profiles can give you all the visual information you need most of the time when picking primary targets or even being conscious of staying in close proximity to healers. Removing those visual cues generally leads to a less fluid combat experience because you’re spending too much time figuring out what class other characters are and not enough time diving into the battle.

That’s the primary reason I’ve always liked the concept of dye systems in MMOGs, at least when you throw PvP into the mix. The latest official blog post from ArenaNet for Guild Wars 2 goes fairly in depth on how the dye system will work in that game and I certainly think they’re on the right track. Itemization still matters to character progression and strong armor profiles can factor into PvP, yet players still have the ability to add their own individual touches to how their character looks.

And thus concludes another of my seemingly aimless diatribes on MMOG design! Be sure to hop your virtual pogo stick on over to the Loading… forum and share your thoughts on the cosmetic side of the character progression coin!


Shayalyn's Epic Thread of the Day


From our Ten Ton Torched Forum

The Daily "It Made Me Laugh" Thread

From our DC Universe Online General Discussion forum

Looks tempting, but...

So, there was this thread about DC Universe Online, and new Ten Ton Hammer community member, mega Tsunami, joined just to post, "SOE. No Thanks." And then bobfish was all, "You registered just to post that?" And then people were all, "Well, I'm going to play," and other people were all, "I don't like DC." We're pretty sure that you have an opinion on DCUO. Here's the perfect thread for expressing it.

=====================================
Awesome Quotes from the Epic Thread

"I am going to play it when it comes out to see how it compares with Champions. See how things go. I did have fun in EQ 1 and 2. With 6 years of WoW I am a bit burned out on it."

- saya1965
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New and Exclusive Content Today at Ten Ton Hammer


5 new Ten Ton Hammer features today! 105 Ten Ton Hammer features in September! 1060 in 2010!

REGULAR FEATURES

Microcosms: EverQuest 2 Extended – Open Borders
http://www.tentonhammer.com/microcosms/2010/sept/39

When EverQuest II Extended was announced, few players were more excited than our own Jason “Medawky” Bolton who grew up in Norrath and always had a soft spot for the franchise. How did the newly-liberated shattered lands live up to this prodigal son’s expectations, and is the new server worth your time? Join us this week in Microcosms to find out.

PREVIEW GUIDE

An Introduction to Weapons in Guild Wars 2
http://www.tentonhammer.com/gw2/guides/basics/weapons

Weapons will work a little differently in Guild Wars 2 than they do in traditional MMOGs. While each will still contain various stats that can enhance your character’s role in combat, they will also grant the user access to specific core skills based on their profession and a whole host of other gameplay variables. Learn all there is to know about weapons including types, sets, environmental objects as weapons and even Weapon Master achievements in our introduction to weapons in Guild Wars 2.

FEATURES & GUIDES

Flying The Caracal In EVE Online
http://www.tentonhammer.com/eve/guides/ships/flying-caracal

The Caracal is a fantastic ship for new Caldari players who are expecting to pursue missiles as their primary weaponry system. Think of it as a baby drake. Space Junkie explains the ins and outs of this newbie-friendly cruiser.

Try It On! Guide to New Fall Fashion in LotRO
http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/90170

With Monday's Lord of the Rings Online patch came a new and welcomed treat: the ability to try on the cosmetic items in the store without having to buy them first, or have someone else buy them and link them in chat. This is truly a boon to fashion moguls who care about style but want to conserve their precious Turbine Points for substance.

WoW Rogue Talent Guide for Patch 4.0.1
http://www.tentonhammer.com/wow/guides/rogue_cataclysm_talents

Rogues have been riding a balancing rollercoaster for all of Wrath of the Lich King and it's not over yet! Cataclysm is delivering a significant revamp to the sneaky stealthers. Check out the new talents and get some analysis on how they will affect your playstyle. Talent information and analysis is updated for Patch 4.0.1!

Today's Top 10

  1. WoW Rogue Talent Guide for Patch 4.0.1
  2. Marvel Super Hero Squad Online - A Heroes & Helicarriers Preview
  3. Measuring Gear and Comparing Scores in World of Warcraft
  4. Return to Norrath! An Interview with EverQuest 2’s Dave Georgeson 
  5. An Introduction to Weapons in Guild Wars 2
  6. For the Emperor! Gods and Heroes - An Interview with Heatwave Interactive
  7. Ten Ton Hammer's All-New Minstrel Class Guide for Lord of the Rings Online
  8. A Preliminary Look At The Incursion Expansion For EVE Online
  9. A Guide to the Major Changes in WoW Patch 4.0.1
  10. What Happened To...

Thanks for visiting the Ten Ton Hammer network!

- Reuben "Sardu" Waters and the Ten Ton Hammer team

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